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Bill Gates says Russian invasion of Ukraine will be 'good for the long run' because it will force countries to transition to green energy, praises ESG investments

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Software developer Bill Gates declared that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will be "good for the long run" because it will force European nations to embrace renewable green energy.

Gates appeared on CNBC's talk show "The Exchange" this week, where he pushed green energy alternatives over fossil fuels and touted efforts to promote the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiative.

"The 'E' part — lot of controversy, but there is a way to measure it, and it should be one of the factors people look at when they invest in companies," Gates said of the environmental aspect of ESG.

Gates commended BlackRock CEO Larry Fink as a "great example of private-sector leadership" in regard to climate change policy.

“Anyone who says that climate shouldn’t be a factor in how you evaluate the future of a company – that’s not capitalism," Gates claimed. "Because companies that have emissions, they are going to be subject to border adjustment tariffs or taxes. If you’re dealing with severe weather events, that’s got to be factored in."

Gates argued, "Climate does affect the economy, which does affect investments."

BlackRock is an investor in Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which aims to invest in green solutions that usher in a zero-carbon world. Earlier this year, the tech billionaire told Forbes that his Breakthrough Energy organization is "only focused on investments that will have a substantial effect on climate change."

Gates conceded that society can't stop using fossil fuels cold turkey because it's "how people get to work today" and " how people avoid freezing to death in the winter."

However, Gates said the transition to green energy still must happen. He said the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused a "setback" in the transition to green energy as European countries attempt to replace sanctioned fossil fuels from Russia.

"You know, it's a setback, you know, we need to find non-Russian hydrocarbon sources to substitute for those. So there's coal plants running and variety of things because you know, keeping people warm, keeping those economy's in decent shape is a priority," the Microsoft co-founder said on Tuesday.

"Now, on the other hand, it's good for the long run because people won't want to be dependent on Russian natural gas," Gates told CNBC’s Diana Olick. "So they'll move to these new approaches more rapidly."

The "new approaches" are likely green energy alternatives that the Breakthrough Energy organization plans to invest in.

Gates – who has a net worth of $101 billion – said efforts to combat climate change need to expand to things like green steel, green cement, and green hydrogen.

During the Breakthrough Energy Summit in Seattle this week, Gates said, "The ultimate measure of success is global greenhouse gas emissions: We need to go from 51 billion tons a year to zero in the next three decades."

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