Climate change: Abolish taxes on clean energy, urges Branson
Cool Planet to show public how to stop climate change
Governments need to abolish taxes on clean energy if the world is to tackle climate change, businessman Richard Branson has said.
Speaking at the launch of the world's first visitor centre dedicated to climate change in Co Wicklow, he said it would be "extremely easy" for governments to drive a move to renewables which would reduce emissions and lower energy prices.
"For entrepreneurs, the battle that faces us of global catastrophe is an enormous opportunity," he said. "All government has to do is tip the balance towards clean energy - it's extremely easy - with no taxes on clean energy, but taxes on dirty energy. It's worked with cigarettes, where pushing the price up stops people smoking.
"Anyone in a position of influence has got to persuade our politicians of the sense of it. Dirty fuel prices have gone up in the last four months. If we had more clean energy than demand for dirty energy, fuel prices wouldn't have gone up."
Mr Branson was at the Powerscourt Estate to officially launch the €1.5m Cool Planet Experience (CPE), an interactive exhibition which sets out the challenge of climate change - and the solutions. The Irish Independent is media partner, and 10 more centres are due to open in the next three years, including one in Dubai in the summer.
Founder Norman Crowley said the 'green' message had to change for people to take action to reduce emissions. He said the technologies existed to tackle climate change, but that "disgracefully little" had been done over recent years.
Governments, he said, did not realise the "multi-billion euro opportunities" which arise from tackling climate change, adding that people could "have their cake and eat it".
"We have had 10 environment ministers in Ireland since 1992 and in that time, disgracefully little has been done about climate change," he said.
"Climate change is not a big issue for Government because it's not a priority for voters. It's not a priority for voters because voters think it's too painful to change because the green lobby has been telling them for years they need to go back to the seventh century and lead simple lives.
"Our message is that with the latest technologies, people can now have their cake and eat it."
Ireland faced fines of up to €500m out to 2020 due to inaction, he added, saying the CPE aims to highlight that solving the issue could be "really cool".
A registered charity, the CPE sets out the impacts of climate change being felt today and the science behind the changes.
The content is produced by CPE with DMW Creative. Supporters include the ESB, Vodafone, NTR Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a number of universities, including Maynooth University and UCC.
CPE opens in February. Prices will be €9 per adult and €5.50 per child. Lower rates will apply for OAPs, with school tours free. Aimed at those aged eight years and older, 26 Cool Planet Champions are in each county, and will give talks on tackling climate change in local communities. Workshops for more than 500 children in the Leinster area have already been completed.