Bill Gates worries climate money robs health aid

SEATTLE Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:09am EST

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Bill Gates, the world's richest man and a leading philanthropist, said on Sunday spending by rich countries aimed at combating climate change in developing nations could mean a dangerous cut in aid for health issues.

Gates, the Microsoft Corp co-founder whose $34 billion foundation is fighting malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases in developing countries, expressed concern about the amount of spending pledged at December's Copenhagen global climate meeting.

Participants at the meeting agreed to a target of channeling $100 billion per year to developing countries to combat climate change by 2020. Gates said that amount represents more than three quarters of foreign aid currently given by the richest countries per year.

"I am concerned that some of this money will come from reducing other categories of foreign aid, especially health," Gates wrote in a letter, released late on Sunday, describing the work of his foundation.

"If just 1 percent of the $100 billion goal came from vaccine funding, then 700,000 more children could die from preventable diseases," Gates added.

Taking the focus away from health aid could be bad for the environment in the long run, said Gates, "because improvements in health, including voluntary family planning, lead people to have smaller families, which in turn reduces the strain on the environment."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he runs with his wife Melinda and father William Gates Sr., had an endowment worth $34 billion as of September. Gates, 54, remains Microsoft chairman but focuses his attention on his foundation.

Since starting in 1994, the foundation has handed out more than $21 billion in grants.

Gates said he was worried generally about levels of government aid from rich countries to poor countries slipping with tough economic conditions globally.

"Because of budget deficits, there is significant risk that aid budgets will either be cut or not increase much," Gates said in his letter.

He singled out Italy for criticism. "Italy was at the low end of European givers even before the Berlusconi government came in and cut the aid by over half, making them uniquely stingy among European donors," Gates said.

According to Forbes magazine, Gates was the richest man in the world in 2009 with an estimated fortune of $40 billion.

(Editing by Will Dunham)

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Comments (5)
Money spent on resolving climate issues *is* helping health and many other issues in developing countries. Climate Change is aggravating environments where disease thrives, and makes it harder to get aid to the people in need. Malaria levels were significantly up this year with the prolonged warm/wet season in Central America. Growing seasons have been foreshortened and cooler, leading to lower yields on crops in developing nations. Money needs to be spent on a wide and varied assortment of areas to combat climate change, and each of those areas impinge on other areas that need support and aid. Plus, there’s also the fact that climate change is going to turn many areas of the Third World into disaster areas in the next 25-50 years, and money spent now to prepare for floods, desertification and loss of land will be less than the cost of trying to fix those problems after the disasters have hit.

Jan 25, 2010 4:51am EST  --  Report as abuse
Logic46 wrote:
Global warming is a joke. Now, the people responsible for the silly report declaring the Himalaya glaciers were melting, have retracted their claim, admitting to false data.
The governments aren’t spending our money, they’re wasting our money: Something that they have perfected. And by the way, if we save money by stopping funding of idiocy, why do we have to then spend it somewhere else? Can’t we ever just save some money and show a sense of fiscal responsibility? Let Europe fund assistance to Africa, they’re the ones that created the current Africa.

Jan 25, 2010 11:16am EST  --  Report as abuse
jrj90620 wrote:
People who don’t believe in global warming or the fact that pollution is very harmful to health should be forced to route the exhaust pipe of their car into the passenger compartment.

Jan 25, 2010 12:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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