Richard Branson’s new climate project unveiled at COP 16

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New Mexico Independent, Cancun, Mexico

On Monday, Kevin Conrad, special envoy and ambassador for environment and climate change, Papua New Guinea, unveiled a new project from Sir Richard Branson.

The Carbon War Room is a US-based nonprofit that “harnesses the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change.” One of the features of its website is a tool to measure shipping efficiency. According to a press release from the Carbon War Room, shipping produces almost 1 gigaton of carbon dioxide emissions each year, or a thousand million tonnes, more than the total emissions of Germany. The Carbon War Room saw an opportunity to support its ambitions of rapid, large-scale emissions reduction by entrepreneurial means, in targeting the sector. They, and others, have estimated that there is more than 30% profitable efficiency potential on current technology.

The Carbon War Room’s homepage offers a scrolling list of dramatic facts, such as: 3,641,114 million tons of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2009.

Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are rising due to increasing anthropogenic emissions. Unchecked, rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to catastrophic climate change.

Public electricity and heating in Annex I countries accounted for over 6.68 billion tons of CO2 emissions annually in 2007 and 4,626,841 thousand tons of CO2 in 2007. Transport is responsible for approximately 20% of global anthropogenic emissions, or more than 4.63 billion tons of CO2 annually. There’s no mention, however, of one of Branson’s own projects, New Mexico’s Spaceport America, emissions from which are expected to accelerate climate change.

As Bryant Furlow reported earlier this year in the New Mexico Independent, the study appeared in Geophysical Research Letters and suggest that emissions from 1,000 private rocket launches a year would persist high in the stratosphere, potentially altering global atmospheric circulation and distributions of ozone. The simulations show that the changes to Earth’s climate could increase polar surface temperatures by 1°C, and reduce polar sea ice by 5–15%.

The New Mexico Independent sent an an e-mail seeking comment to the Carbon War Room’s director of communications, but has yet to receive a reply.

This blog post first appeared in the New Mexico Independent which has shut down due to lack of funding.