Richard Branson, The Politician

I've got to hand it to Richard Branson--he's smoother than Mitt Romney and Barack Obama combined (which some will argue is not saying much...). An anti-global warming crusader named Craig Rucker recently caught up with environmentalist Branson at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil.

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.”

A great non-answer. Brilliant.

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.”

Another great answer. As it turns out, we're not running out of oil, but I like his response--a sort of non-partisan answer. He smartly dodges the loaded question that he could have quibbled over and I think everyone agrees that depending solely on fossil fuels becomes problematic when supply lines are squeezed and prices are so volatile.

Mr. Branson is quite the politician. A necessary component in the airline CEO portfolio, I suppose.

Read more about the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme here.


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