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Branson Made Green Pledge Under Pressure From Gore And Turner

Former US President Bill Clinton (L) and Sir Richard Branson hold a signed committment letter after Branson announced that he would invest about some three billion USD to combat global warming at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York on 21 September 2006. The money would come from profits from his company's transportation and airline businesses and be invested in efforts for renewable energy. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Roberts and AFP.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Sep 24, 2006
British businessman Richard Branson made a multi-billion-dollar pledge to fight global warming under pressure from US media mogul Ted Turner and former vice-president Al Gore, he said in a newspaper interview Sunday. He told the Independent on Sunday that global warming was approaching "a tipping point" and Turner and Gore had convinced him it was time to act.

"We just have to hope that it has not come already," he said.

"We have to try to do something about it. One way is to try to come up with a clean alternative fuel or fuels."

Branson said that following the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in the United States last year he thought that fuel prices had soared because of a shortage of oil-refining capacity.

"I started to build an oil refinery, but then Ted Turner rang me up and asked: 'Why not build a refinery for clean rather than dirty fuel?'

"He invited me to fly to Washington to meet experts," Branson told the paper.

Branson said Gore told him to "do something big to kick-start the process."

The founder of the Virgin Group of companies last week announced his commitment to spend three billion dollars (2.3 billion euros) on reversing global warming.

Virgin Group is to invest all future profits from airline and train businesses in reweable energy initiatives.

The entrepreneur has denied this is one of the public relations stunts for which he is famed, saying: "If it's good for marketing, that's fine, but it's not my principal reason for doing it."

earlier related report
Clinton Global Initiative Raises Over 7 Billion Dollars In Pledges
New York (AFP) Sep 22 - Former US president Bill Clinton said Friday his aid initiative garnered 7.3 billion dollars in pledges aimed at fighting poverty, global warming and religious friction. A total of 215 pledges were made during the second annual Clinton Global Initiative, which gathers heads of state, entrepreneurs and foundations to discuss practical ways to address the planet's pressing problems.

"The world is unequal, unstable and unsustainable," Clinton said in a closing speech at the three-day forum. "All we tried to do here is to create a small piece of common ground."

He called for leaving "our useless resentments behind so we can learn from each other and lift our vision to a better place. It seems to me that's what this interdependent world demands of us."

This year the global warming issue seemed to generate more interest than ever.

British tycoon Richard Branson pledged Thursday to invest the next 10 years' profits from his Virgin Group's airline and train businesses in renewable energy initiatives. The company estimated the commitment was worth about three billion dollars.

Clinton unveiled Friday the creation of a one-billion-dollar "green fund" to support renewable energy initiatives. The fund was launched by a partnership between businessmen Stephen Bing, Ron Burkle and Vinod Khosla and a former World Bank president, James Wolfensohn.

US retail titan Wal-Mart announced an initiative to cut the use of packaging materials by five percent, saying it would have a significant environmental benefit. "Oh, this is good!" a pleased Clinton told Wal-Mart chief executive H. Lee Scott.

The former Democratic president also thanked the founders of Google, who are offering free advertising to any nongovernmental organization pledging to his initiative: "Thanks, guys!"

A diverse group rubbed shoulders at a major Manhattan hotel, including Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, former US president Jimmy Carter, former US secretary of state Colin Powell, News Corp mogul Rupert Murdoch, and Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Barbra Streisand.

The singer donated one million dollars to the Clinton Foundation for its programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

In other sectors, the American-Indian Foundation pledged to invest 1.5 million dollars in programs to fight AIDS in India.

Jim Zogby, president of the Washington-based think tank Arab American Institute, plans to use television programs to foster dialogue between Arab and American youths.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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