Our government and most governments in the world are on 4-5 year contracts and are scared stiff of losing their jobs with all the perks and gold plated pensions.
This must be the reason that despite them being well aware of the disaster we face if we continue emitting greenhouse gasses and depleting the worlds resources at ever increasing rates, action is painfully slow and crucial years go by without the international agreements needed. In fact the world’s leaders are desperate to get back to fossil fueled economic growth as quickly as possible without considering policies that would greatly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels but might not increase living standards. They may be right, the public are not yet convinced that there is a problem worth making sacrifices for. We need to convince them.
This week the government climate change committee reported that if aviation growth is not slowed, the rest of us will need to reduce GHG emissions by 90% by 2050 instead of the 80% that was the previous target. A spokesman said on channel 4 news that a levy on air travel could be introduced to slow growth. When the presenter suggested this would be unpopular, he quickly said the levy would not be draconian, maybe £4-£10 on short haul and £20 transatlantic.
If the government thinks that would cause a significant reduction in aviation emission, they really are in denial. Draconian is what we need.
Richard Branson’s book, “Business Stripped Bear” is a fascinating account of how he started his businesses and how he likes to manage them, but the most surprising fact is that despite running transport companies that consume vast amounts of fossil energy, and is starting a space tourism company, he obviously understands the problems of climate change and oil depletion, and actually is determined to do something about it.
This is in stark contrast to some other business leaders who in the past have spent millions of dollars on campaigns to persuade governments and the public that there is no problem and that we can carry on with present practices.
Branson has taken the time to study the subject and once convinced, he used his celebrity status to contact people who could help him make a difference.
In typical Richard Branson fashion he has come up with headline grabbing but brilliant ideas.
First, he has announced that any proceeds received by the Virgin Group from their transportation businesses will be used to tackle environmental issues, which he hopes could be something like £3 billion over a number of years.
Next, he announced the Virgin Earth Challenge. To win the $25 million prize, participants will have to demonstrate a provable, commercially viable design that will result in the removal or displacement of a significant amount of environmental greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. The challenge will run for ten years.
Sir Richard is now using his money, contacts and influence to try to make a real difference and to get as many people as possible looking for solutions.
Good for him!