A race for climate technologies like JFK’s lunar plan

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The race to develop new technologies to solve the climate crisis is similar to America’s race to put the first man on the moon, Microsoft President Brad Smith said on Wednesday.

“We will have to invent new technologies,” Smith told CNBC’s Karen Tso at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

“It’s kind of like John F. Kennedy said in 1961 that America would go to the moon in 1970. No one had designed a lunar lander yet.”

“We have the ability, I believe, to invent the technology that will be needed. This is where the markets and much of this new investment, in part, will have to go,” Smith added.

Smith, who was also at the UN’s COP26 climate conference this week, said he believes the nascent climate technology space will spawn many new businesses in the years to come.

John F. Kennedy delivering a historic speech to Congress in 1961 outlining his ambition for America to send a man to the moon by 1970.

Heritage Images | Hulton Archives | Getty Images

“When I look at carbon elimination, carbon capture and storage, sustainable aviation fuel, long-lasting battery storage – the companies that unlock the secrets of these innovations, they will become unicorns if they don’t. do not exist today. names in 2050. “

The Microsoft executive rebuffed claims that such ideas are “pretense”, citing the enormous effort to develop and deploy Covid-19 vaccines in such a short time during the coronavirus pandemic.

So far this year, global investments in climate tech start-ups have already surpassed the whole of 2020, reaching a record $ 32 billion, according to figures shared by Dealroom last week.

World leaders made a number of notable commitments at COP26, including a pact to reduce global methane emissions and an agreement to end deforestation by 2030.

Smith said it was important to “convert promises of progress” through tools such as accurate measurement of organizations’ environmental impact and transparency reporting.

“We have a lot of work to do,” he said.


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