Exclusive video: Sir Richard Branson on the Carbon War Room, peak oil, and why dyslexia has made him a better communicator

“Fuel prices could easily go through $200 a barrel” in the near future

Late last year, Sir Richard Branson founded a new nonprofit, the Carbon War Room.  The objective of CWR is to “bring together successful entrepreneurs in collaboration with the most respected institutions, scientists, national security experts, and business leaders to implement the change required to avoid catastrophic climate change.”

The Virgin Group founder told Time in December, “There are some of us who believe that the problem of warming is as bad as the First and Second World Wars combined.  It’s that serious, and you know the key is carbon, [but] there’s no war room coordinating the attack on carbon.”

I interviewed the British billionaire at the CWR’s “Creating Climate Wealth” conference last week.  He had some fascinating comments on peak oil, specific measures he is pursuing in his airline business to reduce emissions, and one unexpected ‘benefit’ of his dyslexia:

So dyslexia drove him to using simpler language, a cornerstone of effective messaging (see “Why scientists aren’t more persuasive, Part 1“).

For the record, he seems like a genuinely sincere guy.  And given the diminishing prospects for federal action — and hence diminishing prospects for global deal — we will need as many hard-core entrepreneurs working as hard as possible to get us off of our current emissions path and jumpstart the transition to a clean energy economy.

For more on what they are doing in the shipping industry, see “The Carbon War Room starts to bust barriers in shipping,” which has my interview with Jigar Shah, the clean energy financing guru who now heads the CWR.

6 Responses to Exclusive video: Sir Richard Branson on the Carbon War Room, peak oil, and why dyslexia has made him a better communicator

  1. Language is important. We need more entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Ted Turner

  2. paulm says:

    dyslexics unite. Wish that meant I was a billionaire also.

    More scary news…Auz is on the forefront of GW extreme events and they wont pass a bill!

    The Australian government has put plans for a flagship emissions trading scheme on hold until 2013 at the earliest.

  3. cervantes says:

    What happened to Part 2?

    [JR: This is Part 2. As sometimes happens in my multipart series, the subsequent parts don’t easily lend themselves to numbering in the headlines.]

  4. Jeff Gazzard says:

    Oh dear – the elegantly contrived faux-naif performances of Richard Branson show no signs of stopping!

    Billionaire Branson, worth £2,600 million according to this last weekend’s Sunday Times “Rich List”, needs to be judged by what he does rather than what he says.

    A few weeks ago he said this in the UK’s Guardian newspaper magazine: that if he could develop a “superpower” it would be one to enable him “to be able to save our planet”, Q&A, Guardian Weekend, 3rd April 2010.

    Funnily enough it may already be within his grasp – so in the best Gilbert and Sullivan tradition, here’s my little list to help Branson actually save the planet:

    • Sell or close all your airlines: Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Blue (in Australia) and Virgin America. This will save a conservative 6 million tonnes of CO2, probably more

    • Invest profits from airline sales in trans-European high speed rail services

    • Shut down your US private jet operation, Virgin Charter and stop encouraging pollutocrats

    • No more holidays on your private Caribbean island, Necker – try Southwold instead

    • Virgin Galactic space tourism – very, very silly. Stop it, now, Richard, please

    • Virgin Formula One racing team – carbon-intensive mobile brand advertising for egotists. Small added benefit of not finishing at the back of the field like the team does right now

    • Stop claiming you are investing millions in alternative fuels or at least show us the carbon negative refinery site and real at-the-pump products instead of greenwash hype

    Whilst these suggestions will only go some way towards saving the planet, any such action by Sir Richard would be significant and much appreciated. And lastly – a vow of silence would be good too. From him, not Dr Romm! Carbon War Room indeed.


    Jeff Gazzard

  5. cervantes says:

    paulm — dylsexics untie.

  6. Uosdwis says:

    $200 a barrel = $6.50 a gallon! Get ready for mass hysteria.