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Richard Branson is joining forces with a coalition of global investors and Caribbean leaders to bring disaster preparedness to 3.2 million Caribbean households through the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition.
The creation of this coalition was announced during the One Planet Summit in Paris, which was co-organized by United Nation’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron, and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
“I’ve lived in the Caribbean for much of my life now, it is our home, and I’ve never seen anything like the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” Branson wrote in a statement posted to Virgin’s website. “I’ve seen the deep pain that the people of the BVIs and other Caribbean countries have experienced…They are all facing an emergency situation and still need all of us to step up.”
Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell joined Richard Branson on stage at the One Planet Summit and expressed his optimism about the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition.
“Caribbean leaders have come together as a powerful collective to build a better future for the people of the Caribbean,” he said. “We welcome the financial commitments from our partners…This is a great first step.”
The Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition will work with global finance giants such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Caribbean Development Bank to mobilize $ 8 billion and bring new infrastructure and energy security to vulnerable regional communities.
The Coalition’s first objective is to boost disaster relief and reconstruction after the hurricanes and help build resilience in the face of more frequent, more severe weather events that are likely to hit the region in the future.
Like other similar regional partnerships in Africa and Asia Pacific, it will facilitate the circulation of financial aid and technology transfer. To do so, the alliance will focus on a set of key priorities.
First among those is the scaling of renewable energy systems and reduction of the communities’ dependence on fossil fuels. This will prevent people from being left in the dark if the central energy distribution system breaks down, as often happens during severe storms.
Other priorities include building low-carbon infrastructure designed to withstand storms and exploring creative financing models that reward progress on policy reforms and sustainable growth pathways.
Ultimately, Branson hopes the Coalition’s work will inspire other regions of the world to transition to clean energy and resilient infrastructure. “The Caribbean can truly be a model of accelerating new technologies and approaches to create a smart climate zone that can be replicated around the world,” he wrote in his statement.
Last month, hurricanes Irma and Maria caused widespread destruction throughout the Caribbean. Having lived in the British Virgin Islands for over a decade, experiencing the storms firsthand from a cellar on his private island, philanthropist Richard Branson has committed to playing a major role in efforts to rebuild.
Branson is currently assembling a team to work on a project he’s calling the Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan. The name is a nod to the original Marshall Plan, a program run by the United States that helped countries in western Europe recover in the aftermath of World War II.
The plan will outline a method for improving infrastructure across the Caribbean, which presently has outdated power grids that rely on fossil fuel. Branson’s plan would see these replaced by improved modern versions that make use of renewable sources of energy.
“We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier,” Branson told Reuters. “The Caribbean Heads of State agree with one voice that this is a good idea.”
Another storm could hit the areas affected by the recent hurricanes at any time, so repairs need to be swift and sturdy enough to withstand that possible scenario. The new grid will be designed with resistance to the effects of extreme weather in mind.
The Green Grid
In the wake of Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico, Elon Musk embarked upon a very public attempt to secure a contract to allow Tesla to rebuild the country’s power grid. The job eventually went to Whitefish, but the situation served to illustrate how attractive this kind of work is for energy specialists.
Tesla wanted to use the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to demonstrate the strength of its Powerpack battery system. A successful implementation at a time when all eyes are on relief efforts could help foster usage of the technology in other parts of the world.
Branson may have a similar strategy in mind when it comes to the Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan. In 2016, Virgin acquired BMR Energy, a company that develops wind energy projects across the Caribbean and Latin America.
In 2017, we’ve seen hurricanes have caused a devastating amount of destruction across the Caribbean. It’s crucial that the rebuilding process gets underway as quickly as possible to help the people that were affected return to normalcy. That said, it’s just as important that these efforts produce a power grid that won’t be destroyed by the next round of extreme storms.
Despite the name change, the transportation startup’s goals remain the same. It will continue to develop and test its hyperloop pod and tracks as well as investigate the viability of previously announced routes.
TechCrunch notes that included in the re-branding, Virgin Hyperloop One will now be associated with Virgin Group’s other projects. Hyperloop now has a powerful billionaire with an interest in the future backing it, which can go a long way when trying to introduce a new concept.
“Ever since our creation, Virgin has been known for disruption and investing in innovative companies,” said Branson in a blog post. “From our airlines to our trains to our spaceline, we have long been passionate about innovation in transport too, especially the development of technology that could transform people’s lives. This is just the latest example.”
Branson went on to explain how he’d recently visited the DevLoop test site outside Las Vegas to get a first-hand look at the technology involved in Hyperloop. At the time, the pod was able to reach a top speed of 310 km/h (192 mph) with a peak acceleration of 1.48 Gs – the equivalent of going from 0 to 60 mph in 1.85 seconds.
Today, the Virgin Group has announced that it has invested in Hyperloop One, the startup that recently demonstrated a working prototype of the travel system. As well as cash, and the involvement of Sir Richard Branson, the company will re-brand as Vi… Engadget RSS Feed