Sir Richard Branson Speaks at S.L.O.W. Life Symposium

Maldives Promotion House – Sir Richard Branson, the founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group, has said that the world faces “the mother of all recessions” unless much more is done to encourage the development of renewable energy.

Addressing delegates at the third annual Six Senses SLOW LIFE Symposium at Soneva Fushi in Maldives, Sir Richard said that governments had to provide additional incentives to support the adoption of alternative fuel sources.

 “If we don’t have alternative fuels we are going to have the mother of all recessions. The way to kick-start the revolution is to have no tax on all clean energy while slowly increasing tax on dirty energy,” Sir Richard said.

“We have been diverting our profit from airlines into developing fuel for aircraft that won’t damage the environment.”

Sir Richard called on European aviation authorities and airports to do more to reduce the aviation industry’s energy emissions and said that the climate change battle is the “biggest entrepreneurial opportunity of our lifetime”.

“Every single ecosystem is in decline. We must revalue how we value our natural assets and how we reduce our consumption patterns.  But it is important for all of us to stay positive. Martin Luther King did not get his message across by saying ‘I have a nightmare’,” he noted.

Other speakers at the Six Senses SLOW LIFE Symposium include President Nasheed of the Maldives and Hollywood actors and renowned environmental campaigners Edward Norton and Daryl Hannah.

Mark Lynas, the Climate Change Advisor to President Nasheed of the Maldives, said that the island state is the perfect test-bed for cutting edge environmental technologies. Addressing delegates at the Symposium, Mr Lynas said that the country was now perfectly placed to lead the world to a low carbon future.

He said that companies from all over the world are coming to the Maldives to test renewable technologies. “What has really struck me is that this is a country that intends to be master of its own destiny.  The phrase is ‘victim to victor’,” he said.

“What the Maldives has managed to do is to say that going carbon neutral is good for the economy – it is the engine for growth.”

It was a theme picked up by Jakob von Uexkull of the World Future Council.

 “Climate change is the only threat that the media downplays rather than exaggerates. Natural laws cannot be changed. Nature provides no bailout packages and you can’t negotiate with melting glaciers,” he said.

“Environmental solutions that were devised at the Symposium have already come into being.  For example, the UNESCO Baa Atoll marine conservation project, which has been partly funded by Six Senses, was something that was first discussed at the Symposium,” Chief Executive and Founder of Six Senses, and the host of the event, Sonu Shivdasani said.

 Soneva Fushi will be decarbonising by 2013, with the remaining Six Senses resorts following by 2020.

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