Article: Richard Branson Virgin Group Founder

Delighted to join my fellow B Team leaders in calling for a global commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a meaningful and effective price on carbon, and a shift of fossil fuel subsidies to renewables. These are absolutely essential steps to be taken if we are serious about tackling climate change.

The underlying science doesn’t give us much room for maneuvering. The latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that achieving net zero by 2071 will only provide a 66 percent chance of limiting global warming to 2°C. This is the threshold humanity must not cross in order to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change—consequences that are already being felt in many parts of the planet, disproportionately affecting the world’s poorest. That’s why we’re calling for net-zero emissions by 2050, and for this to be a cornerstone of the Paris climate agreement to be reached later this year. We have no time to lose.

But despite the urgency to act, I remain optimistic. We have the enormous opportunity in our hands to make a positive difference for business, people, and the planet. Taking bold climate action now has the potential to unleash the full power of business and at the same time lift millions of people out of poverty. We’re the first generation to recognize this and the last generation that will have this opportunity.

One thing is clear. This must be a collective effort. Ambition and bold commitments from our governments in Paris will be rewarded by innovation and investment from businesses. We all are now very aware of what a connected world we live in—connected to each other and to the earth that gives us everything we have. We need all countries and companies to step up and play their part—setting strong goals, having clear plans, and openly demonstrating progress.

Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors including mobile telephony, travel and transportation, financial services, leisure and entertainment, and health and wellness. Since starting youth culture magazine Student at age 16, Richard has found entrepreneurial ways to drive positive change in the world. In 2004, he established Virgin Unite, the nonprofit foundation of the Virgin Group, which unites people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world. Most of his time is spent building businesses that will make a positive difference in the world and working with Virgin Unite and organizations it has incubated, such as The Elders, The Carbon War Room, The B Team, Ocean Unite, and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. He also serves on the Global Commission on Drug Policy and supports ocean conservation with the Ocean Elders.

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