By September 19, 2017 Read More →

Richard Branson to set up green energy projects fund for devastated Caribbean

Richard Branson

Richard Branson says tens of thousands of people have lost their homes and livelihoods in the wake of Hurricane Irma. photo.

Richard Branson says Caribbean needs a “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan”

On Tuesday, Richard Branson said he wants to set up a fund that would help rebuild Caribbean countries that were virtually destroyed by Hurricane Irma and, at the same time, help these nations shift from fossil fuel-dependent utilities to low-carbon renewable energy sources.

Speaking with Thomson Reuters Foundation, the British billionaire business magnate says he has been in talks with governments and financial institutions as well as philanthropists while at the UN General Assembly in New York this week.

“As part of that fund we want to make sure that the Caribbean moves from dirty energy to clean energy,” he said.

In early September, Branson hunkered down in his wine cellar to weather Hurricane Irma on his private island, Necker, located in the British Virgin Islands.  For the past 11 years, the head of the Virgin Group has called the BVI home.

Across the Caribbean, Irma killed nearly 40 people and decimated infrastructure and basic law and order.  Much of Branson’s home was flattened, save for “a massive bank of solar panels.”

Calling for assistance, Branson said “The region needs a “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” for the BVI and other territories that will aid in recovery, sustainable reconstruction and long-term revitalisation of the local economy.”

Beyond the destruction and devastation wrought by Irma, Branson sees an opportunity to not only rebuild, but to help the island nations become greener and more self-sufficient in the production of electricity.

Branson adds that green energy could make the Caribbean islands, which have traditionally generated electricity by burning diesel fuel, more resilient to future hurricanes.

But, with Hurricane Maria barreling through the Caribbean, Branson says his first priority is to “deal with the immediate aftermath of that and just making sure everybody is all right.”

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