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Microsoft founder Bill Gates today called for large-scale innovation so thatIndia opts against the choice of coal-fired power plants to provide electricity to millions of its people.
"Only through innovation can you square the circle and say, should India electrify as fast as it can or should India avoid greenhouse gas emission which even if they go forward, they won't emit as much CO2 per person as we have for more than a hundred years," Gates told the popular Charlie Rose Show on PBS aired yesterday.
Referring to the millions of Indians without access to electricity, Gates said unfortunately their straightforward path to get there is coal.
"And yet India's big enough, it's enough people that if they go down that straightforward path we won't meet any of our climate change goals," he said in response to a question.
"And yet, today, we have no alternative that's even close to as cheap including reliability which is always a fundamental characteristic of energy systems. You cannot power India as cheaply with the other things as you can with coal," Gates said.
Gates argued that innovation is the answer to most problems, including energy.
"And so I think of India as paradigmatic, that because they don't have electricity, they are collecting firewood that's destroying their environment, the women are breathing smoke and the children and they get respiratory diseases. It's awful for their health even if they survive," he said.
"They don't have lights at night to read. They can't keep fresh food cold so they don't get enough protein in their diet. There's every reason why India should have electricity. It's great for their people," Gates said.
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