Richard Branson Pledges US$3B Over Ten Years

It seems to be the year of personal philanthropy and environmental awareness wakeup.

Sir Richard Branson, owner of the global Virgin empire, has decided to invest up to US$3B over the next decade to aid fighting global warming. This amount is contributed entirely from Branson’s airline and rail businesses. He was convinced of the urgent need for environmental reform after a home visit from former US vice president Al Gore.

The generous offer was made during this years Clinton Global Initiative and exceeds the combined contributions from last year’s event and the other parties this year. However, since last year’s transport revenues of the flamboyant businessman accounted for only US$171M, Branson will raise funds externally or cough the remainder out from somewhere by the end of the ten years.

Some initiatives that the funds will be helping in are to research on environmentally friendly airline fuel and using enzymes to make ethanol and butanol.

Branson’s charity may have a commercial benefit as well. With plans to expand his Virgin Atlantic by ten percent and into the American market, such a move may help reduce the cost involved in controlling the carbon emissions from the planes as required by law in the near future.

A daring but smart effort by Branson, to possibly reduce pollution costs from his businesses while generating a consumer influence in favour of environmental care. But then again, he has said recently that in thiry years Virgin will be known for its good deeds in the global community than the strong consumer branding his group is so famous for.

Well, what can I say. As long as these guys help to sustain the Earth a bit more, I’m hopeful my family and I can survive till our restful ends.

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