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Bill Gates calls fossil fuel divestment a ‘false solution’

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Founder of Microsoft and the Gates foundation also accuses environmentalists of making misleading claims about the comparative price of solar

Bill Gates has branded fossil fuel divestment “a false solution” and accused environmentalists of making misleading claims about the price of solar power.

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 commit to pulling $2.6tn 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.

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