December 6, 2010
If governments fail to reach agreement on tackling climate change, global industry should be able to remove 17bn tons of projected CO2e emissions by 2020 and stabilise the climate, Virgin chief Richard Branson has said at the UN climate talks in Cancún.
But he tempered his optimism that the world’s entrepreneurs could slash emissions better than states by saying that governments had to set the framework for business to go green.
“The ideas are out there. But if the worst came to the worst and governments did not get their act together, industry should be able to solve the problems themselves. If governments set a framework in which clean energy was not taxed and dirty energy was, then there is a chance. That’s what government has to do,” he said.
Branson, in Cancún to launch a web-based initiative to reduce shipping emissions by as much as 25% over the next 20 years, said taxes could be useful. “[Carbon] taxes are fine if they are global. Everyone must be in the same boat. We would welcome it if they were done equitably, across the board and as long as it’s not just airlines. Everyone must share the burden.”
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s high-level finance committee, which includes Lord Nicholas Stern and energy secretary Chris Huhne, said last month that shipping and aviation taxes could raise $20bn to help poor countries adapt to climate change.