commits $3b to global warming - 22nd September 2006
The Sydney Morning Herald)
British billionaire Richard Branson has committed
to spending all the profits from his airline and rail
businesses - an estimated $3 billion over the next
10 years - on combating global warming.
Virgin Group chairman, whose company also includes
music and mobile phone ventures, has already created
Virgin Fuels, which will invest $400 million over
three years in renewable energy initiatives as part
of his pledge.
profits from the Virgin Group's transport businesses,
which make up nearly half the company, will also be
spent on separate investments in biofuel research,
development, production and distribution, and projects
to tackle emissions through a planned Environmental
have to wean ourselves off our dependence on coal
and fossil fuels. Our generation has the knowledge,
it has the financial resources and, as importantly,
it has the will power to do so," the flamboyant
56-year-old entrepreneur said.
who has a knighthood and is known as much for his
daredevil stunts as his business, unveiled his plan
at a news conference at the Clinton Global Initiative,
a summit run by former US President Bill Clinton to
combat world problems.
commitment is groundbreaking not only because of the
price tag - which is phenomenal - but also because
of the statement that he is making: clean energy is
good for the world and it's good for business,"
pledge comes one day after the Bush administration
said it was committing $3 billion to climate technology
research and development. Climate experts and members
of Congress criticized the administration's plan as
long-delayed and inadequate.
whose Virgin Group has more than 200 companies worldwide
and employs 25,000 people, said he used to be skeptical
about climate change, but reading a lot of books on
the issue changed his mind.
decision to commit billions of dollars to the cause
came after former US vice-president and long-time
environmentalist Al Gore visited him in England a
basically said 'look, you're in a position where you
might be able to make an influence -if you could make
a bold gesture then maybe other people will make a
bold gesture as well'," Branson told the Clinton
Global Initiative summit.
said alternatives to conventional oils and coals were
really do believe the world is facing a catastrophe
and there are scientists who say we are already too
late, but I don't believe that is the case. The majority
of scientists think we can still do something about
it," he said.
international experts say emissions of greenhouse
gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels in power plants,
factories and cars, are the primary cause of a 1.1
F (0.6 C) rise in temperatures over the past century.
dwindling group of scientists say the dominant cause
of warming is a natural variation in the climate system,
or a gradual rise in the sun's energy output.
think it's a very encouraging step. Richard Branson
prides himself in being ahead of the field, so I hope
it will lead to other people taking note," British
Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said in New York.