Richard Branson’s Take on Climate Change

Posted on December 3, 2019

Let me incept this piece with a quote from the British magnate and billionaire, Sir Richard Branson, which goes, “whatever your goal is, you will never succeed unless you let go of your fears and fly.”

Love him or hate him, Sir Richard Branson is by all measure, a master of success with unstoppable entrepreneurial zeal that has given him an edge across many different niches.

The multi-billionaire philanthropist and founder of a slew of diverse companies under the umbrella of the Virgin Group—Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Cruises, Virgin Express, Virgin Hotels, Virgin Mobile and recently Virgin Galactic, has built an amazing life and credits this to a simple philosophy he applies daily—love others, be grateful for all you have, be kind and be mindful. And oh, Never say no, but just keep going until you succeed."

But surprisingly…..

It’s not just his ability to succeed in the business space that makes him special. Sir Richard Branson has built himself a solid name thanks to his quest to make a difference on Earth—something that he says has driven his achievements and helped built a multi-billion dollar empire in a single lifetime.

Richard Branson and Renewable Energy

Now one of the wealthiest and most influential British men in the world, Sir Richard is truly making that difference in the renewable energy space, especially after finding himself under siege during a Hurricane Irma event that had him hunkered down in his vast wine cellar whereas the Category 5 storm ripped through his private island.

For the duration of that bad weather event, the Virgin boss had to dash to his concrete shelter with his family and staff as winds with speeds of 185 mph tracked over Caribbean’s Necker Island.

"Earth is astoundingly beautiful, it needs to be protected."

Sir Richard Branson

While Mr Branson seems to be perpetually a happy-mode man and of course a die-hard fan of outlandish hobbies, he has actually expressed his connection to climate change.

Branson Calls Upon the Australian Government

During a Tuesday morning conference in Sydney, Sir Richard Branson asked Australia to lead the way in renewables.

At the event, the amazing Sir Richard called on the Australian government to put an end to export of coal given its contribution to global warming.

“I'm afraid that Australia must stop selling coal overseas to China and it must stop using coal in Australia. It is the most damaging thing that it can do."

"I would suggest the Australian government create a revolution in clean energy, which can create thousands more jobs than coal could ever produce."

The business tycoon proposes a scheme where all companies will be required to work out their net carbon footprint and pay a certain percentage of their revenue that will be channeled towards supporting clean energy initiatives.

"Unlike a carbon tax, that would create a revolution in clean energy, with trillions going into clean energy," he noted.

"It's going to need the world to take this problem very very seriously," he told Storm Assist.

"I think the government of Australia should do a lot more and coal is definitely, I'm afraid, something that should be a thing of the past."

The Noble Approach to Climate Change

The 69-year old Branson practices what he preaches and advised that the right decisions aren’t always the easy ones as he cited a rather “painful” decision to decline a billion dollars worth of funding by the Saudi Arabian government for his space program—Virgin Galactic. The offer came immediately after the murder of the French journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to the business mogul, it was time for the corporate world to create an “entrepreneurial way of addressing climate change that doesn't have the negative effects that carbon tax has had in the past - which obviously brought down the Australian government."

The proposed scheme, he emphasized, was all simple.

"Every company that emits carbon should work out its carbon footprint, and then a percentage of their turnover or profits relating to that footprint will not just be sent to the government to be lost in the coffers. 100 per cent will be spent on clean energy initiatives."

He added that if all companies were to strictly adhere to these noble rules then "we would have trillions and trillions going into clean energy and very quickly."

Richard Branson Guilt Tripping the Aviation Industry

The philanthropic Virgin Group boss has pledged three billion dollars over the next decade to go towards efforts to mitigate global warming.

While the aviation industry contributes about 2 percent to the global carbon emissions, Virgin Australia’s co-founder Richard Branson says it’s time for airlines to reduce their carbon footprints or actually risk a reprehensible backlash from passengers.

The prodigy of “flight shame” was on the rise especially in Europe and the phenomena have seen passengers stop flying with certain airlines due to guilt over the effects on the environment.

"It’s up to us companies to get our footprint down and down and down, so people don’t feel guilty," he stated.

"If any industry doesn’t get their act together on carbon, there is the risk that consumers will act badly against them – and they deserve to be acted badly against," Sir Richard stated on Thursday.

The billionaire businessman who is such a success today also owns a 10 per cent share in Virgin Australia and the man behind UK’s Virgin Atlantic carrier noted that sustainability should be a top priority for every company and airline.

“Every consumer in [the modern world is informed] and makes up their own mind on things like that,” the Virgin boss remarked in Brisbane while promoting Virgin Australia’s newly introduced route to Haneda Airport in Tokyo which is set to commence in March 2020.

The Virgin Approach

Virgin Australia’s rival Qantas has pledged to eliminate its long-term carbon emissions to zero by year 2050 using a winning combination of fuel efficiency and “off-setting” schemes like tree planting.

Virgin Australia is yet to decide whether it would match its rival’s new commitment to cut its emissions. As it is now, Virgin Australia has used diverse fuel efficiency plans to mitigate its annual carbon emissions by 9 million kilograms.

Last August, the company installed “split scimitar winglets” to its aircraft of which the company claims will save up to 160,000 kilograms of fuel per plane each year.

Already, the Virgin founder is testing newly recycled aviation fuel for use in his airlines but insists that governments ought to do more too.

"What would happen is the price of clean energy would drop dramatically, and stay down forever. It will never go back up again."

"That's something I'll be talking to the Australian government about," also noting that the prominent Australian scientist Tim Flannery had reached out to him, lauding the idea.

So, What’s Next on Richard Branson’s Agenda?

Sir Richard looks forward to conquering both the oceans and space. 

He recently affirmed Virgin’s plans to launch a cruise line—Virgin Oceanic, despite heated concerns in recent years over the industry’s pollution but he promised that Virgin would do "everything possible, plus more."

"With brand new ships and brand new technology, we can lower our footprint," Virgin Voyages CCO Nirmal Saverimuttu noted.

For now, Sir Richard’s eyes are set on space and he’s already at it—training hard to become an astronaut as he prepares to travel to space in the near future through his innovative Virgin Galactic venture.

And how does he consider claims that he’s given up on planet Earth? According to him, it’s all hogwash.

"I think Earth is all we’ve really got," he stated.

"I think this idea that we are going to go and colonise Mars or the Moon and therefore we don't really need Earth anymore is rubbish.”

The "Earth is astoundingly beautiful, it needs to be protected," he concluded.