Rio+20 Showdown with Richard Branson

Words flew as CFACT’s Craig Rucker and Sir Richard Branson squared off at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil. Surrounded by Greenpeace activists, Branson was leaving the Greenpeace press conference just as Rucker was entering for CFACT’s press event.

Rucker seized the opportunity to confront the globe-trotting, fossil-fuel-burning Branson about his unlikely position on global warming.

“Sir, do you support the European carbon tax on your own planes going from the United States to Europe?” Rucker asked. Clearly surprised, Branson responded that he would prefer that it be an “international tax, rather than just one area of the world.”

Such an idea is not unheard of. In fact, one of the items on the negotiating table here at Rio+20 is a tax — ranging from 0.2 to 0.7 percent — on international financial transactions, which would generate billions of dollars per year, and would be sent directly to the United Nations. It is unusual for the head of multinational corporations to support such radical policies.

Rucker then asked whether it would be wise for Branson to tax his clients, considering that “support for global-warming science is eroding worldwide.” Over one thousand climate scientists dispute the hypothesis that global warming is man-made, Rucker noted, and over 31,000 natural scientists have signed a statement saying there is no convincing evidence that humans are causing catastrophic global warming.

Nonetheless, Branson refused to concede the point, insisted that “even if we are mistaken about that [global warming], I think it is good — we’re running out of oil, so we need to move into clean fuels as soon as possible.”

He’s equally wrong about the world running out of oil. However, Rucker will have to take that up with him next time they cross paths, as Branson was quickly ushered away by his entourage.

David Rothbard is president of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org and www.CFACT.tv).

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