Sebastian Smith

Gates Releases Climate Book One Month After Bidding $3bn For Private Jet Company

If there is one man who’s reputation has changed dramatically in the past year, its Bill Gates. For some, he is a ‘philanthropist’ dedicated to preserving the environment and who aims to fight epidemics around the world. In other cases, he has been blamed for over-hyping pandemics, swaying political decisions, destroying farmers in India and plotting ‘a new world order’.

World Economic Forum/Flickr

In 2000, Gates created the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A not-for-profit officially aimed at tackling disease, poverty and inequity around the world. 

Since 2000, the organisation claims to have spent $53.8bn from its main funders; Bill and Melinda Gates and American investing tycoon Warren Buffet. In recent years, while still aiming to help tackle disease, Bill Gates has also started moving his initiatives towards creating (officially) a greener future and preventing climate change. 

In 2005 Gates created BreakThrough Energy, an innovation investment company aiming to fund technologies and solutions that can help bring carbon emissions to zero. Alongside the company, Gates’s partakes in many other initiatives and climate conferences, however, his reputation as a climate activist recently reached a high with the release of his latest book: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.

While this may at first seem innocent, maybe even virtuous, some may remember that it was only a month prior that Gates and his investment company Cascade made a mass deal to buy large shares in Signature Aviation, one of the worlds largest fixed-operation private jet companies.

The Investment

On the 5th of February 2021, Signature Aviation announced that they were accepting an offer from Brown Bidco Limited, a new company that was to be jointly formed by Blackstone infrastructure, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and Gates’s Investment firm Cascade.

An equity document released by Signature states that Blackstone will hold 35% equity, GIP will hold 35% and the other 30% will be held by Cascade. The acquisition is yet to be settled in ‘the third quarter’ of the year at $4.72bn equivalent to £3.46bn.

”Cascade has long believed in Signature and its ability to build the premier global FBO network that is sustainable over the long-term, having made its first investment in Signature in 2009.  We are excited to continue to support Signature and its employees, customers, and all stakeholders in the next phase of growth”. –  Michael Larson, Business manager to Cascade & Gates Foundation.

Image: Signature Aviation

Signature Aviation, formally known as BBA Aviation claims to be the number 1 fixed base operation (FBO) network for premium aviation services. In 1986, BBA (at the time) entered the aviation industry from its previous role in power transmission and mechanical conveying. Through the past decades, BBA expanded its power with the acquisition of aviation companies such as H+S Aviation, Landmark Aviation and EPIC Aviation until 2019 when it re-named itself Signature Aviation to ‘better align it’ with the brand in its market.

As of today, Aviation claims to have over 13.2m sq ft of hangar, terminal and office space under management in the US and to have handled over 1.2m aircraft movements in 2020.

Philanthropist or Business Mogul?

Although apparently a big deal, Gates is not new to Signature, after already acquiring 19.01% of the company in 2009, he will only be expanding his existing stake in the firm.

Despite this, Bill & Melinda Gates continue posing as climate activists, however, a quick look beneath the surface seems to show some hypocrisy. In his recent book, Gates writes: “It’s true that my carbon footprint is absurdly high’, later writing “I own big houses and fly in private planes — in fact, I took one to Paris for the climate conference”. 

According to mainstream science, plane flights are responsible for approximately 2.5% of yearly CO2 emissions. A study by the Common-wealth institute claimed that an average private jet journey in Europe ’emits 10 times as much greenhouse gases as the same journey by an economy class flight’. With that in perspective, the big question is: why is a so-called climate activist investing billions into the private jet industry?

Gates may as well say: ”You stick to the bike, and I shall continue with my jet, we’re in this together”.

”Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world.”

 – Jordan Peterson

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