Most travelers have heard of the brand, if not the man, in the form of Virgin Atlantic Airlines; the Virgin Group of Companies also has stake in the railroad industry. Founder Richard Branson has committed all proceeds from the company’s transportation interests (totalling $3 billion over the course of 10 years) to be donated to and/or invested in renewable energy initiatives.
Branson was spurred to action following the Clinton Global Initiatives gathering, a yearly program that urges celebrities and business and political leaders to dedicate their efforts, monetary and otherwise, to combat large-scale global challenges.
The official release on the Clinton Global Initiatives site states the following reasoning behind the decision: “Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group believe that all businesses, especially those involved in transportation, energy and particularly fossil fuels such as coal must be at the forefront of developing environmentally friendly business strategies with a focus on replacing traditional energy with energy coming from renewable sources.”
The commitment will focus on several areas, including renewable energy, Virgin Fuels – an investment vehicle for renewable energy specifically focusing on bio-fuels, research and development on developing bio-fuels suitable for ground and air transportation – distribution of products to combat emissions related to global warming, and more. At least some of Branson’s investments appear to be profit-making ventures.
According to Branson and the Virgin Group, this environmental commitment spans their entire group of companies—from serving fair trade coffee in the break room to running the world’s most energy efficient long distance trains.
Says Branson, “We have to wean ourselves off our dependence on coal and fossil fuels. Our generation has the knowledge, it has the financial resources and as importantly it has the will power to do so.”
Read Ethical Traveler's Reprint Policy.