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On the second day of the Clinton Global Initiative, Virgin Group entrepreneur Richard Branson committed all the profits from his 4 airlines and train company, projected to be $3 billion over the next 10 years, to be invested in developing energy sources that do not contribute to global warming.

“The only way global warming is going to be beaten is to invest in new fuels that can actually replace fossil fuels,” Branson said.

“Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents. It is in our hands whether our children and their children inherit the same world. We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment.”

On September 10th, Branson announced the new Virgin Fuels. Part of the $3 billion pledged will go towards this and other Virgin companies. Virgin Fuels will invest $400 million over the next 3 years in developing bio fuels.

Virgin airlines alone consume 700 million gallons of aviation fuel a year, equivalent to over 5.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. With Virgin Fuels’ help it plans to switch some or all of its aviation fuel over to bio fuel in the next 5 to 6 years; an aggressive plan since experts claim the technology to convert bio mass into cellulose ethanol is still several years away.

The Branson business acumen is clearly visible within this pledge. “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. Unless you can generate cash, it’s not going to be successful. With oil prices above $70 per barrel, people want to save on the cost of fuel, and so alternative fuels suddenly make business sense,” he said.

It’s this focus that gives real hope for tackling climate change, turning on its head the earlier US government prediction that cutting carbon emissions would have “a negative economic impact, with layoffs of workers and price increases for consumers.”

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