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Virgin CEO Richard Branson: carbon is the enemy; IT can help

Posting in Sustainability

Speaking in Frankfurt, Virgin CEO Richard Branson touted the Carbon War Room group as a way to "remove gigatons of carbon out of industry."

ORLANDO -- Virgin chief Sir Richard Branson has seen the enemy and it is carbon.

Branson touted the Carbon War Room, a group of entrepreneurs, public sector officials and industry leaders as a way to "remove gigatons of carbon out of industry."

Branson, speaking at the SAP Sapphire conference, a coordinated Orlando-Frankfurt powwow with customers, said:

Basically the enemy is carbon. There was no war room to coordinate to fight carbon.

When asked where information technology fits into this war on carbon, Branson noted that the industry plays a big role. Information technology companies and industry leaders need to tackle sustainability—especially since data centers will increasingly use more resources and emit more carbon. Branson noted that IT is creating more carbon output than the shipping and airline industries.

Branson said:

Most important thing IT can do is to simplify it. The equipment is producing more carbon output than the shipping industry. Simplify the equipment in one simple environmentally friendly machine. Love if IT people could work on that.

Among other gleanings from Branson's talk:

  • Crises lead to opportunities. The BP oil spill shows how hard it is to drill for oil a mile under the sea. That's an opportunity for alternative fuels.
  • Next big things always appear. For instance, Virgin’s space venture could be a business for air travel. How fast could you fly from New York to Frankfurt if you can "put customers out of the Earth's atmosphere and bring them back down again."
  • Branson spends "60 to 70 percent of my time looking at intractable problems of the world and see if we can tackle those problems in a different way."
  • Never get too big. If Branson sees one of his company gets more than 200 people in one building he splits it in two. "We make sure none of them get too big," he said.

More from the SAP Sapphire conference on SmartPlanet:

Originally posted at ZDNet's Between the Lines.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure