Climate Change…China Headline: Beijing added twice the capacity of California last year. But Beijing is determined to resist international action on climate change. The elephant has entered the room. “It must be pointed out that climate change has been caused by the long term historic emissions of developed countries and their high per-capita emissions. Developed […]
“We face the challenge of transforming the way in which we
produce energy, the way we transport ourselves and goods, the way
we build structures — everything we do,” Gore said. “Is there
some way that some of the extra CO2 can be scavenged efficiently
out of the atmosphere?”
Gore, 58, has long called for stronger action on climate
change, a stance that has earned him a nomination for the Nobel
Peace Prize. “An Inconvenient Truth,” a film featuring Gore and
based on his lecture about climate change, has been nominated for
a best documentary Oscar.
The panel of six judges also includes James Hansen, who
heads the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard
Institute for Space Studies, and U.K. scientist James Lovelock,
who devised the “GAIA” theory that likens the Earth’s natural
systems to those of a living organism.
Branson, 56, said he drew inspiration for the prize from an
18th-century U.K. government award for an invention that could
accurately register longitude, which produced a winner six
“The Earth cannot wait 60 years,” Branson said. “We need
every brilliant scientist to put their minds to it together.”
Following the IPCC report’s publication, environmental
groups including WWF International, Greenpeace and Friends of the
Earth said that governments need to reduce emissions of gases
such as carbon dioxide and methane in order to avoid the worst
ravages of global warming.
Branson warned that his prize doesn’t guarantee success, and
that as well as working towards extracting already-emitted gases
from the atmosphere, companies should cut emissions.
“Every single business must set themselves an individual
target: they must all try to reduce their own CO2 emissions by at
least 25 percent,” said Branson, whose Virgin Group comprises
about 200 businesses ranging from airlines and trains to music
and financial services. “I believe that’s possible.”
Branson said airlines such as his own can reduce emissions
by using newer planes and technologies, beginning descents to
airports earlier rather than circling, and lobbying airports to
tow planes to the runway rather than leave the engines running.
“Every industry will find that there are areas like that
where they can reduce their output of CO2.”
In September, Branson pledged to contribute $3 billion over
10 years to combat global warming. The money will be used to
reduce Virgin’s own reliance on fossil fuels, as well as
supporting research on bio-fuels, he said. The prize he announced
today will not come from that fund.
“The winner must be able to demonstrate a commercially
viable design which will result in the net removal of
anthropogenic, atmospheric, greenhouse gases each year for at
least ten years without countervailing harmful effects,” the
written rules of the prize say.
As well as Branson, Gore, Hansen and Lovelock, the panel of
judges will include Crispin Tickell, a former British diplomat,
and Tim Flannery, an Australian author and conservationist. The
panel will be helped in their deliberations by Steve Howard,
Chief Executive Officer of the Climate Group, an organization
that works with governments and companies to help mitigate
The U.K. Treasury said in an Oct. 30 report that global
warming may cost the world as much as 20 percent of global gross
domestic product by the next century because of the effects of
famine, rising sea levels, storms and other environmental damage.
“We’re not used to thinking of a planetary emergency,”
Gore said. “It’s a challenge to the moral imagination of
humankind to actually accept the reality of the situation we are