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Branson, Gore Announce $25 Million ‘Virgin Earth Challenge’

Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore have set up a new global science and technology prize -? The Virgin Earth Challenge – which will award $25 million to the individual or group who are able to demonstrate a commercially viable design which will remove at least 1 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year for at least ten years without harmful effects.  The removal must have long term effects and contribute materially to the stability of the Earth’s climate.  It is the largest science and technology prize ever offerred.

The Virgin Earth Challenge will initially be open for five years; the judges will meet annually to determine whether a design has been submitted during the previous year that in their view should win the prize and, if so, they may award the prize without waiting for the five year period to elapse.  If no winner has been selected at the end of five years, the judges may decide to roll the prize forward for a further five years.

Brandon called on governments and members of the international community to join in The Virgin Earth Challenge by matching or adding to the prize available to encourage the greatest number of entrants of those who could come up with a solution which could save our planet. “If the greatest minds in the world today compete, as I’m sure they will, for The Virgin Earth Challenge, I believe that a solution to the C02 problem could hopefully be found -? a solution that could save our planet – not only for our children but for all the children yet to come,” Branson said.

Branson will be joined in the adjudication of the Prize by a panel of five judges – all world authorities in their respective fields:  Al Gore, Sir Crispin Tickell, Tim Flannery, Jim Hansen and James Lovelock. The panel of judges will be assisted in their deliberations by The Climate Group and Special Advisor to The Virgin Earth Prize Judges, Steve Howard.

The announcement comes on the heels of the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which last week announced that temperatures on earth could increase by as much as 6.4C by the end of this Century.

“By launching the $25 million Virgin Earth Challenge, the largest ever science and technology prize to be offered in history, we want to encourage scientists and individuals from around the world to come up with a way of removing lethal carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere,” Branson said.  “By competing for this prize they will follow in the footsteps of many of history’s greatest inventors and innovators.  But in this case potentially save the planet. It is our hope and belief that the winner of The Virgin Earth Challenge will help to reverse the collision course our beautiful world is currently on.  They will not only make history but preserve history for many, many generations to come. However, it is important to remember that there is a real possibility that no one will win this prize.”  

“Carbon dioxide levels already are far above anything measured in the prior 650,000 year record, and just last week in Paris scientists gave us their strongest warning yet of the consequences of inaction,” Gore said.  “So the dangers are clear.  But the opportunities, if we take action now, are innumerable, and Sir Richard’s initiative to stimulate exploration of this new approach to the climate crisis is important and welcome.”

The creation of the Virgin Earth Prize is one of a number of Branson initiatives including investment in renewable energy research and the $3 billion dollar Clinton Initiative pledge in September 2006.

Al Gore has planned a series of concerts “bigger than Live Aid” in a bid to put the subject of climate change before a global audience,

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16 thoughts on “Branson, Gore Announce $25 Million ‘Virgin Earth Challenge’

  1. My book Published by John Wiley and Sons Chichester UK,”Fuel Cells,Engines,Hydrogen,an Exergy Aproach”,offers up to 400% efficiency gain in power generation from fossil fuels. There is a raft of developement problems of government size to solve

  2. Please,provide contact infromation to subbmit disclosure documentation for entry: “The Virgin Earth Chalenge.”

  3. You are still looking to modify a propeller driven airplane when it’s time for a jet engine … in this case it’s a Permanent-Magnet powered engine which the establishment has successfully kept off the market for decades.


  5. Sirs,

    There are plenty of articles announcing the prize and the rules but no where that I can find is the mechanism to sign up for the competition. Is this a joke or only limited to the inside elite? Please publish how to compete now.
    Thanks, Ronald Davenport

  6. Maybe someone will create the ‘Mother-load’ invention that saves us from ourselves, but, in case not,- there are several things we should be doing right now while waiting for eureka. First of all, all chemical fertilizers should be removed and rendered harmless, if possible. Reason being that they eventually make it to the ocean and kill algae( greatest source of oxygen). Next, all the telephone/electric poles should be retrofitted to capture wind energy, connected across the country(ies) relaying and recharging bountiful free energy. Next, lands that were overgrazed and rendered barren should be reseeded by plane during monsoonal rainy seasons. Next, the billions of trees that are decaying because of the bark- beetle should be shredded and mixed with crops(?)to be pressed into somesort of building materials instead of decaying into more caron- dioxide pollution. I don’t know which crop would create a binder like that of natural treesap. And, the land exposed, after harvesting the dead trees, should be replanted with seedlings. There are thousands of projects we should be doing for Earth’s sake and man’s. These are some ideas I hope you will add to you very well-intended list. Good-luck!

  7. This shot gun approach is not effective. We are looking at one solution that is natural to directly solve the problem. So far, Iron Fertilization is the closest thing we have found to do the job on such a massive scale without side effects detrimental to eco-systems.

  8. Al Gore spoke in Silicon Valley shortly after receiving the Nobel Prize and expressed the importance of Techie transportation. This is really important, because even if we started Iron fertilization right now, we are unable to counter act the exhaust gas from our cars and trucks, etc. If we use a non-internal combustion method of powering passenger cars, for instance, we can start reducing the emissions that have got us in the trouble we are in. If we just keep producing gasoline powered cars and trucks, we will not be able to overcome the carbon emissions, since we are increasing our population on a J curve and increasing our automobile production to match it, with new cars and trucks.
    I drive a 40 year old car, and it runs on gas, but as an example, re-using a car by fixing it instead of throwing a car away after 5 or 10 years like most people do, we save natural resources.
    In this case, we are facing a matter of having started the concept that a new car is a sign of prestige. It is not. It is ruining our eco-system.

    We need to be able to replace our current internal combustion engines with non-fuel burning motors. Right now, there is a company in Berkeley, California that has produced a car that uses a battery similar to the ones used in a cel phone. This battery also has been managed to run longer and to allow the car to run at normal highway speeds. So progress is being made.

    Our challenge is to make these things mainstream.
    One company in a small town making a few cars won’t be enough. If we can rally the major automobile manufacturers and also retrofit the existing cars with new safe emission or no emission power plants then we have a new industry to look forward to. The time has come.

    Also, the weight of the cars currently being made is too high. A Rover, for instance, weighs 8,000 pounds. On the case of power to weight ratios, take the second car I own, a 1969 Triumph Spitfire (from Coventry) – it weighs 945 pounds wet. The power needed then is 75 H.P.

  9. Well, the government has been preventing technology from being produced for over 30 years that would give us the ability to travel for free without burning oil.

    Ali mentioned one solution below

    The Government needs something to tax, so I say we take it right to the step beyond perpetual.

    Take the magnetic drive system to move the vehicles and add generators to create energy during it’s travels.

    Imagine pulling into a filling station and getting paid to discharge your battery… It gives the Government something to tax so they would have to allow it to move forward. The oil companies don’t need to worry, they are at the peak of production and demand will continue to rise from those who don’t care about the future of this planet.

    There are many ways to reach perpetual, toss out the formulas because they will tell you it can’t be done…

    I already have a working prototype…

    Get me some funds and keep the government and oil companies away while I perfect it.

    We could have them coming off the lines at GM by the end of next year…

    no pollution, no gas…

  10. Emailed today to earth.challenge@virgin.com:

    This is the real solution to your problem, which was already given to US Government several years ago and disseminated elsewhere outside USA to interested parties everywhere. I reviewed your terms and conditions for this contest and determined this solution did not qualify, by virtue of utilizing technology already in place, and more importantly, I do not agree to your terms and conditions in principle and in practice so will not enter your contest under any circumstances.

    The real reason why human race cannot solve cited problem is not because it is not able to, but because it doesn’t want to.

    Solution to your problem is: Earth is normally covered by a layer of atmospheric dust, which is balanced out on daily basis by carbon wells (forests). “Global Warming” is caused by what amounts to a thick layer of soot created by pollution from things like fossil fuel power plants and cars, that has made the atmospheric dust layer thicker than usual, and changed its chemical composition somewhat, that is constantly being replenished by pollution from various sources like cars, and fossil fuel plants. The end result of this atmospheric change amounts to placing an insulating blanket over Earth, so that it traps more heat than is good for it. Because chemical composition of atmospheric dust cloud has been changed, and is thicker than it out to be,- this is why weather patterns are now more volatile, accordingly. If it were not for that these pollution sources keep putting new dust into atmosphere on a daily basis, that is greater than the ecosystem can effectively clean out to keep itself in balance, pollution output would not be an issue. By retrofitting fossil fuel and related pollution producing power plants, exhaust systems of cars, etc- with filtration and incineration technology currently in place in municipal waste incinerators, which prevent pollution related dust resulting from incineration to be released into atmosphere, will effectively put a stop to any new pollution, and excess amounts of dust in atmosphere remaining can be effectively removed from atmosphere by carbon wells (forests) in @100-200 years or so, restoring balance to ecosystem.

    As a reminder this solution has already been disseminated to general Earth population several years ago and is now old news. Any inquiries, please contact me directly, thanks.

  11. I have seen and read a lot of so called carbon dioxide emission reduction programs but appears to be just band-aid solutions. 1. There is no consistency in the implementation, now you see, tomorrow no more. 2. Some government agencies which are supposed to accommodate, test and implement programs are just too hesitant to accept new ideas. 3. The poor inventor can not access to so called government and private funding for the success of his invention. 4. The poor inventor most often is not entertained 5. The inequality of the rich and the poor remains, so that the idea of the poor even how excellent it is, is not entertained.

    We are running out of time. The Coal Power plants, Boilers, Vehicle emissions and all others continue to pollute our atmosphere every second. While we appreciate the Virgin Earth Challenge, we request that the analysis and result of such analysis or study be accelerated if only to save our earth. One, two or three entries in the challenge can surely be of help in the solution of the so called Global warming problem.

  12. Planet of Earth Energy Crisis.

    Dear Sir,

    The Subject matter is all over the World facing Energy problem, So I am trying to Explain an idea for Old & New Dams / Reservoirs Hydro electric projects Civil Design Geometry
    Can be modifying in Architectural Transition to increase our energy potential. Because we are Losing heavy quantum of already storage water in our Big Dams and its relevant projects to generate Hydro Electric old technology, Now it must be need to convert into new theory of Scientific Technology as per utilizing in the way of experiment with foreign expertise at any Hydro electric base Model of concern Department or forum to finalize the following unique and entire world Global developing idea for its further implementations in the current ongoing and next coming future Hydro projects as soon as possible.


    with best regards.

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