Politicians and leading figures from the renewables industry have gathered at Richard Branson’s private Caribbean island to discuss how small island nations can reduce their carbon emissions and prepare for the future impacts of climate change.
The event was also organised by the Carbon War Room – a non-profit co-founded by Branson to promote business solutions to climate change – in the hope that it could encourage commercial investment in low-carbon technologies in island states.
Delegates from 13 Caribbean countries and territories gathered at the three-day event.
“We’re hoping to get a number of islands to sign up to get as carbon neutral as they can over the next few years”, Branson told Associated Press.
The Virgin founder said that the region can use its vast renewables potential to become not just a global example, but also energy self-sufficient.
“I think it’s important that island states get their own fuel and can turn to bigger countries and say, ‘Please do something, because we love our islands; we don’t want to see our reefs destroyed or water levels rising’.
“It could be a tremendous benefit to Caribbean economies, and it can save a lot of individuals quite a lot of money.”
Lynn Tabernacki, managing director of renewable energy programmes at the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, added, “The islands of the Caribbean have a significant opportunity to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that could have dramatic economic, social, and environmental impacts.”
Branson’s Necker Island forms part of the British Virgin Islands. He is looking to lead by example, having recently signed a deal with NRG Energy to develop a system that will generate 75% of the island’s electricity from renewable sources.