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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Rebel Environmentalist

The man. His record label. His airline. His rail line. His alcoholic beverage. His carbonated beverage.

The visionary who brought us the likes of Boy George & The Culture Club, the Sex Pistols and Virgin Cola is branching out once again. The rebel billionaire himself is joining the fight against global warming, but doin it HIIIIIIIIS way, as usual.

Branson Plans $3B Against Global Warming

NEW YORK -- British business mogul Richard Branson said Thursday he would invest about $3 billion to combat global warming over the next decade.

Branson, the billionaire behind the multi-platform Virgin brand, said the money would come from 100 percent of the profits generated by his transportation and airline sectors. It will then be invested in efforts to find renewable, sustainable energy sources in an effort to wean the world off of oil and coal. ...

"Our generation has inherited an incredibly beautiful world from our parents and they from their parents," Branson said at a news conference with Clinton at his side. "We must not be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment."

"SRB" ("Sir Richard" duh) and the Virgin Group are hedging their bets on their own secret alternative fuel project, due out in '07. According to this article in CNN Money:

He's investing in conventional ideas like ethanol plants and solar power, but he's also developing a formula for a new ultraclean fuel that can power his jets as well as cars and trucks.

CNN ponders the qualities that make SRB, Sir Richard Branson:

What we love about Branson is that he's part Warren Buffett, part P.T. Barnum. Not every idea he's dreamed up has panned out: Virgin Cola bombed in the United States, and the irresistibly named Virgin Brides retail chain is down to one lonely store in Manchester, England.

Still, Branson remains an unflappable inventor and promoter. On a brief landing in the States between launching a cell-phone carrier in South Africa and promoting a rock concert in Toronto, he sat down with Business 2.0 to explain how he keeps coming up with new ideas.

Q: What's the next big thing?

SRB: I used to be skeptical of global warming, but now I'm absolutely convinced that the world is spiraling out of control. CO2 is like a bushfire that gets bigger and bigger every year.

All of us who are in a position to do something about it must do something about it. Because Virgin is involved with planes and trains, we have even more responsibility. So we've put aside quite a lot of money to invest in alternative fuels. Over the next four years, we'll invest something like $1 billion in alternative fuels.

The money is going into a whole series of different things like building ethanol plants. We're looking into wind power. We're looking into solar. And we're also actually working on developing a new kind of fuel, which I can't say much about but which is quite exciting.

Q: So we'll be pumping Virgin Fuel?

A: It will be called Virgin Fuel, yes! It's not ethanol-based as such, but it'll be a clean fuel. And if we've got it right, it could be a very important breakthrough. We think this fuel will work in cars and trucks and trains within a year. And we're hoping that it might work in commercial jet engines within five years, possibly sooner. So it will be able to work in Virgin Atlantic planes one day.

But 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 a barrel, people want to save on the cost of fuel, and so alternative fuels suddenly make business sense.

Sir Richard himself believes global warming is a problem and he has way more at stake about it than most of the rest of us.

SRB: estimated $3 Billion fortune, much of it in oil sucking ventures
CP1: eagerly awaiting next paycheck since ... last paycheck


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