In an interview with US magazine the Atlantic, the founder of Microsoft and the Gates foundation criticised the global movement that has seen pension funds, universities, churches and local governments worth $2.6tn commit to pulling their investments out of coal, oil and gas companies.
“If you think divestment alone is a solution, I worry you’re taking whatever desire people have to solve this problem and kind of using up their idealism and energy on something that won’t emit less carbon – because only a few people in society are the owners of the equity of coal or oil companies,” he said. “As long as there’s no carbon tax and that stuff is legal, everybody should be able to drive around.”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which Gates founded with his wife, is the world’s largest charitable foundation and funder of medical research. It has $1.4bn (£900m) invested in fossil fuel companies, according to its latest available tax filings.