Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says reducing the risk of global warming will require more competition in the clean fuel market place – and likely will also require removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
In a post on the Virgin blog, Branson says everyone – companies, but also individuals, government and the media – must do their part to prevent climate change. Fossil fuel companies must invest more of their “record profits” in helping to develop commercial-scale renewable energy systems. Agriculture and commodity companies must collaborate with those trying to restore ecosystems and soils. Branson says the telecoms industry shows the innovation that gets unlocked when fetters on competition are removed – and the same change in the clean fuels industry would bring change “much sooner.”
Branson says his own Carbon War Room initiative is working to reduce carbon emissions at a gigaton scale by reducing emissions in industries from shipping to building; and the Virgin Group’s airlines are investing all their profits into clean fuel technology.
But he notes that all these attempts to reduce emissions may not be enough. “If we are to clean up legacy carbon emissions, and have a chance of meeting the ever steeper rates of emissions reduction that are required, it looks increasingly likely that scalable and sustainable ways of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere will also need to be responsibly explored, investigated and integrated. But these can only ever work in conjunction with mitigation, and must never be an excuse for business as usual,” Branson writes.
Not coincidentally, the Virgin Earth Challenge is a prize designed to foster just that type of technology.
The post will likely get less press coverage today then will Branson’s decision to settle on Necker Island, his property in the British Virgin Islands – a move The Sunday Times cast as a way to avoid UK taxes, an allegation Branson denies. But his comments – especially on carbon removal – are worthy of further discussion. As behind the curve as we are on developing new forms of sustainable energy, attempts to remove carbon from the atmosphere are even more nascent. They could, however, prove necessary. Entrepreneurial companies must start to consider the possibility that atmospheric mitigation will become the only way to prevent disastrous changes to the climate.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.