Bill Gates says there are multiple options for reducing livestock emissions

Eric Barker, 27/01/2023

Bill Gates

BILLIONAIRE philanthropist and climate change investor Bill Gates has made an appearance in Australia, taking time to chat to the Lowy Institute about a range of topics – including red meat.

Mr Gates has become well-known in recent years for his controversial comments in 2021 calling for policies requiring people in rich countries to eat “100 percent synthetic beef”. Many in the livestock industry at the time called out his vested interests in ‘synthetic meat’ startups including Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats and Hampton Creek Foods.

Lately his investments have gone towards methane reducing supplements for livestock – with his company Breakthrough Energy Ventures last week announcing its investment in Western Australian start up Rumin8. In a filmed question and answer session with the Lowy Institute, Mr Gates elaborated on his ideology towards red meat.

“Six percent of global emissions are from cows, who burp and fart methane, and we have two paths to solving that,” he said.

“You can either fix the cows to stop them doing that or you can make beef without the cows. Both of those will be pursued to see which one can lead to a better product in-terms of taste health and cost.”

The impact of cows on the environment has been the source of plenty of debate in recent times. Earlier this week, Beef Central heard from a scientist who believes historic populations of wild herbivores on the planet are likely to have been much higher than previous estimates have suggested – and “more or less” match current domestic herbivore biomass.

Australian ag trending in the right direction

Mr Gates said the Australian agricultural industry was doing advancing well in its environmental management.

“Our foundation funds a lot of agricultural work with the Australian Government helping farmers deal with climate change and have more productivity,” he said.

“Australia is amazing when it comes to agriculture, including tropical agriculture and dry-land agriculture, which are the two most important ecosystems where we need better crops.”

Mr Gates said Australia was in a position to reap the benefits of de-carbonising the economy.

“Australia is very blessed, whether it is wind or solar, the opportunities created by a world that is getting rid of greenhouse gas emissions exceed the things you have to give up,” he said.

“I think you would eventually have to give up almost all of the coal mining activity.”

Mr Gates commended the Albanese’s Government’s increased ambition on climate change targets and said it was an imperative to continue trading with the world.

“Australia was fairly unique until quite recently at not having a climate commitment,” he said.

“It is great to have Australia engaged in climate and the world isn’t going to trade with people who don’t have serious climate commitments.”

US leading the world in innovation

When asked about who were the powerhouses in global innovation, Mr Gates said the United States was still the world leader.

“The US has this unique advantage that it draws in talented people from all over the world,” he said.

“Whether it is climate technology, curing cancer, curing obesity – there is no country that is going to take that position off the US. It is not like all the smart people are saying ‘let’s go to China and hang out’.”

Mr Gates said countries like China and India were becoming more innovative and were going to play a stronger role in world governance.

“China has gone from being incredibly impoverished in 1980 to being the most wealthy, middle income country,” he said.

“I tend to see China’s rise as a huge win for the world. But I do think the current mentality of the US towards China, which is reciprocated, is a lose-lose situation.”








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  1. Lily, 15/10/2023

    I DO NOT WANT SYNTHETIC FOOD GROWN IN LABS!!!! Please stop this insanity!

  2. Susan Ball, 24/03/2023

    Why doesn’t Mr Gates move to China then? CO2 is essential, and Methane is no threat. Will this comment be published?

  3. Andrew J Oliver, 28/01/2023

    Bill Gates flies around the world on his private jet along with many others like him. They create more emissions than a small town on their own output, and expect us to eat insects!

  4. Grahame Beal, 28/01/2023

    Would seem logical that if we made the beef cheaper by producing more we would then keep the methane in check. Not sure what you do about the rest of the world’s animal populations not to mention 9 billion people farting methane everywhere. Seems like a bit of a con to me set up by someone pushing an alternative substandard artificial product that people haven’t demanded or even asked for

  5. Grant Piper, 28/01/2023

    I applaud George King’s response. Further, given the public role Mr Gates has played in the last three years’ debacle anything he says should be severely discounted.

  6. Roger Klemke, 27/01/2023

    Bill said we cannot trade with countries that do not have serous climate commitments
    So this means we need to stop trading with China
    You are so hypocritical Bill Gates
    If Australia goes to net Zero and China does not we waste our time as it will have Zero effect
    Look at history
    We have had global cooling and warming and it was not caused by man and carbon admissions at all
    How can think that man can change the climate by reducing carbon admissions.
    When you stop flying your jets and sell your properties on beach fronts then I know you are serious about so called global warming

    • Robert Abel, 28/01/2023

      Well said,the ony thing he is interested in is his ever increasing bank balance at the expense of the average person

  7. Ross Groves, 27/01/2023

    Just crawl back into your rabbit hole Bill and get out of our lives.
    You are an over priveleged wealthy person who pushes your personal agenda onto over zealous governments who want to tow the WEF line.

  8. Tom Scholes, 27/01/2023

    Surely people can see What Bill is up to, he is heavily invested in the climate change movement. He does not care about the environment, he cares about money and wealth

  9. Val Dyer, 27/01/2023

    Bill Gates is promoting himself as a philanthropist and climate change guru who, like others , made and continue to make enormous profits from using fossil fuels/rare earths/lithium etc in the Tech Industry.

    It is a distraction from the reality of how animals help the environment.

    Go away and get real.

  10. George King, 27/01/2023

    Including biogenetic methane in this debate is senseless. The world bovine population has remained relatively stable at 1 billion animals since 1976. Methane released by cows has a 12 year limit in the atmosphere before it breaks down to form water and carbon. Methane emissions from cows have been neutral since about 1988. Cows are carbon neutral by their very nature as they are PART of the environment. What is not renewable or environmentally-friendly are synthetic meats, solar panels and industrial wind turbines, advocating these ‘renewable’s’ could only be for vested financial interests

    • Well said.
      A self-interested billionaire preaching to world leaders about how to run their country in ways that line his own pockets… Surely that’s not something that most people would accept without question…

    • Graham Finlayson, 27/01/2023

      Exactly George, why we seem to be being forced down this track to suit vested interests that represent everything that’s wrong with or against true agriculture is beyond me.
      This guy has way too much say in how the world is being run.
      He isn’t the answer, he’s part of the problem.

    • Val Dyer, 27/01/2023

      Exactly. This approach from Bill Gates and others is a distraction from the emissions their companies create.

      • Loretta Carroll, 28/01/2023

        Enteric emissions from livestock is very different from fossil fuel emissions as it is short lived and returns to the soil to grow grass through photosynthesis. The plant draws carbon out of the air and what it doesn’t use is fed to soil organisms building carbon in the soil which builds water retention and healthy soils. If we didn’t have this natural process would our plants die?If Bill Gates had his way, he would eradicate the world of methane producing livestock. In an interview in America he stated:
        ‘I’m afraid the synthetic [protein alternatives like plant-based burgers] will be required for at least the beef thing.
        Now the people like Memphis Meats who do it at a cellular level—I don’t know that that will ever be economical. But Impossible and Beyond have a road map, a quality road map and a cost road map, that makes them totally competitive.
        As for scale today, they don’t represent 1% of the meat in the world, but they’re on their way. And Breakthrough Energy has four different investments in this space for making the ingredients very efficiently. So yeah, this is the one area where my optimism five years ago would have made this, steel, and cement the three hardest.
        Now I’ve said I can actually see a path. But you’re right that saying to people, “You can’t have cows anymore”—talk about a politically unpopular approach to things.’

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