Branson pledges $3B to fight global warming
Billionaire business mogul says 100% of future proceeds from certain divisions of Virgin Group will go towards tackling problem.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Famed British billionaire and Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson announced Thursday he would earmark an estimated $3 billion over the next 10 years towards fighting global warming.
Making his announcement at a news conference at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Branson said all future proceeds from Virgin Group's trains and airline businesses would go towards tackling the problem.
"We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment," said Branson. "We must hand it over to our children in as near pristine condition as we were lent it from our parents." (Watch as Branson puts his money where his mouth is)
Branson, who has transformed Virgin from a fledgling record label he created in the 1970s into a worldwide brand and company that dabbles in everything from the airline business to cell phones to record stores, stressed the need for consumers to eliminate our addiction to coal and fossil fuels to achieve this goal.
"Our generation has the knowledge, it has the financial resources and as importantly it has the willpower to do so," he said.
Global warming, defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as an increase in atmospheric temperature near the Earth's surface, has been blamed on a increase in concentration of greenhouse gases by many scientists. Carbon dioxide, one of the most prominent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, comes from the combustion of coal, oil, and gas, according to the U.S. government agency.
In an interview conducted in July with Business 2.0, Branson presaged Thursday's announcement by emphasizing the need to take action against global warming.
"I used to be skeptical of global warming, but now I'm absolutely convinced that the world is spiraling out of control," Branson told the magazine. "CO2 is like a bushfire that gets bigger and bigger every year." (Read the full interview here)
Branson said the privately-owned Virgin Group, which generated an estimated $8.1 billion in sales in 2004, according to research firm Dun & Bradstreet, was planning on investing $1 billion in alternative fuels over the next four years.Branson said the company was also attempting to create its own Virgin fuel, a clean fuel that would work in cars, trucks and trains within a year, and possibly even Virgin aircraft.
"It's not just that we thought we should do this to try to save the world and the thousands of species that could die if we don't do it," Branson said in the July interview. "... people want to save on the cost of fuel, and so alternative fuels suddenly make business sense."