Shell and Anglo American Advance Monash Coal-to-Liquids Project
Giant Polynya Opens in Beaufort Sea

Clinton Initiative Wraps with $7.3B in Pledges; More Than $3.69 Billion in Investment for Energy and Climate Change Committed

The Clinton Global Initiative conference closed this week with 215 commitments valued at $7.3 billion from companies, governments and non-profit groups. Commitments were focused on the four themes of reducing climate change, disease, poverty and religious conflict.

Although the headliner commitment was Sir Richard Branson’s estimated $3 billion pledge (over ten years) to reinvest proceeds from his transport groups to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, 39 other attendees committed to action in the climate and energy area as well. Projects range from additional investment funds to greenhouse gas offset projects and developing resources for consumers.

Branson committed all future proceeds to the Virgin Group (dividends, realizations and share sales) from its transportation interests (airlines and trains) will be invested into renewable energy initiatives both within these transportation companies and further investments in new biofuel R & D production, distribution and other projects to tackle emissions related to global warming.

As our first significant demonstration of this we recently launched Virgin Fuels. A unique new investment vehicle for a series of international renewable energy investments by the Virgin Group with an early focus on bio-fuels (rather than other alternative energy sources or industrial power generation). The scope of the Company’s investment strategy will also include research and development of new bio-fuels suitable for both ground transportation and aviation.

Virgin Fuels has an initial funding commitment from the Virgin Group of up to $400 million over three years for biofuel investment and R & D. The new group recently took its first position in the sector with an investment in Cilion, Inc., a new corn-ethanol company. (Earlier post.)

Not to be left out on the investment side, the venture capital firm KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) pledged to double its existing $100 million commitment—launched in February—to funding breakthrough clean energy technology ventures in biofuels, solar cells, fuel cells, storage, energy management and conservation.

KPCB partners will dedicate the additional $100 million over two years to support new ventures in Greentech to rapidly improve the pace of technology adoption in clean energy.

Second, KPCB will create a KPCB Prize for Greentech Policy Innovators to recognize and award $50,000 to an outstanding policy entrepreneur each year.

ABN AMRO said it will create a renewable energy private equity fund to make major investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency companies. The focus of the fund is global with a target market of OECD countries and select emerging markets.

The company is committing to investing up to $63 million equivalent (€50 million) for its own account with the remaining funds to be raised from institutional investors, for a minimum fund size of US$ 190 million equivalent (€150 million). The Fund will seek to measure CO2 reduction created by its investments.

Following the Clinton Global Initiative in 2005, ABN AMRO approved a corporate Climate Change Position. ABN AMRO committed to a 15% reduction of its energy consumption by 2008, and to further offset CO2 emissions through a private equity investment fund to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency offsets.

The Enel Group—Italy’s global power company and a leader in geothermal power generation—pledged to at least double over the coming 24 months the amount applied to investment in and acquisition of renewables in developing and/or transition countries.

That doubling, compared to the average amount per year invested in 2001-2005, works out to a $400-million commitment over two years.




Most of this already would have been done irregardless
of CGI so this nothing but publicity stunt for corporations
who destroy the environment and their foundation
throwing pennies to solve the problem.


Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir– prefix and –less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.

Rafael Seidl

Anon -

I think you're being overly cynical here. Mr. Branson's pledge alone matches the total sum the Bush administration has reluctantly agreed to spend on fighting global warming, after four years of tortous hand-wringing:

Sure, many of those pledging private funding in the framework of Pres. Clinton's initiative consider it an investment that they hope will turn out to be lucrative. This applies in particular to projects related to biofuels which fall under the heading of climate change mitigation.

However, these investments are much riskier than they might appear because oil & gas commodity markets has always been highly cyclical. Anyone who declares that booms & busts are now a thing of the past obviously hasn't learnt the lessons of the dot-com craze. If peer pressure among philanthropists and civic-minded competitors increase the number willing to actually take these financial risks, I see nothing wrong with that. The collective wealth of the 400 richest persons in the US alone now totals 1.25 trillion dollars - every single one of them is a billionaire.

Socialists will no doubt demand wealth taxes so they can redistribute the money to their own constituents and/or fund their own pet projects.

However, in the technology realm privately financed projects tends to fare better in the planning and execution phases than publically funded ones do. And if climate change really is mitigated, everyone stands to benefit.

The two approaches are not mutually exclusive, though: Mr. Branson has also called for heavy taxation of aviation fuel where ground transportation alternatives (e.g. high-speed rail) are already available - or would only then become viable investments. In a number of European countries, it is already possible to check-in baggage at selected train stations located far from the airport.

Nevertheless, Mr. Branson has yet to explain how his new Virgin Galactic venture squares with this newfound corporate objective of reducing global warming. Instead of operating the world's most extravagent amusement park ride, how about morphing it into a commercial launch service for low-cost microsatellites? Often, these do not feature solar panels as their very low earth orbits can only be maintained for a few months to a year. Even so, they could still perform valuable science experiments related to global warming.

A network of larger units could provide Internet access to the Third World, enabling tailored information services designed to curb population growth and promote participation in the global knowledge-based economy.


"Branson committed all future proceeds to the Virgin Group (dividends, realizations and share sales) from its transportation interests (airlines and trains)..."
Since the airplanes and trains create the CO2, it seems fair to me that those proceeds should go towards mitigating the problem.

Roger Pham

Ah, a very noble deed indeed, Sir Branson. It reflects his maturity from his reckless trans-Atlantic balloon riding days, to when he got wiser and decided to circle the world non-stop in a jet plane instead. And now, devoting his considerable problem-solving talent and reckless courage to tackle the most noble deed of all: Saving the world from sowing the seeds of its own eventual destruction. With his record of success in conquering the seemingly impossible, the near-term success of renewable energy will now stand a better chance.
As for low-cost low-earth orbit, how about developing a hypersonic SCRAMjet-powered hydrogen space plane as first stage of the launch vehicle? If the thing can go one step from runway into space, taking the advantage of very light-weight liquid hydrogen fuel without having to carry a lot of heavy oxidizer (LOx) then it will be even cheaper!



So you seem to be one the optimist side of the camp. I don't think
technology is going to solve any problem related to climate
change. Just look at Guardian article. Those who believe
in climate change are doing least waiting for some magic
solution which you seem to be promising.

You seem to be kind of person who thinks that rich people
get rich through ether I guess. Oprah was recently crying
about minimum wage. She made the ridiculous statement
of why can't we raise the minimum wage, yet she does not
realize where her salary is coming from. For every rich
person, hundreds have to become poor. So it is kind of
oxymoron for the rich to fight poverty, they are really
shooting themselves. after all someone said that charity
is the bourgeois form of justice.


I am not in 10th grade that I need grammar lesson, I used
the word just fine. If you didn't understand than I can see a
problem. Next time keep that kind of crap to yourself.
Would you go to a stranger and correct their grammar in public.
You would get a punch in the face if you did that what makes
you think it is appreciated in the web.


Spacecrafts of Virgin Galactic use ballistic trajectory to reach out space. Acceleration to first cosmic speed, necessary to launch satellite into orbit, requires 10 times more energy then simple ballistic space trip. These crafts are incapable to launch satellites even theoretically.

400 hundred billionaires you referred too are, I assume, from recently published by Forbs list of World billionaires, not US.

As for your claim that US spends (federal spending is prerogative of US congress, which barely could qualify as “Bush administration”) same amount as Branson on energy efficiency/alternative energy (300 mil a year: 3bil/10), you are so off charts, it is not worth arguing with. Looks like another politically correct urban legend in the making.

P.S. Be careful with Bush bashing. At the moment it is backfiring, and could permanently damage your reputation on this forum.


Be careful with Bush bashing?????
You sound like one of those right wingnuts who threaten people if they don't agree with you or imply they are mentally deficient. And if you don't think that Bush pretty much writes what he wants to congress then you need the education. It is only recently when the White House is down low in the polls that some Republicans are actually not bowing down to King George. Whatever the White House has slated for climate change it pales in comparison to the billions and billions of dollars that goes to a war which actually breeds terrorism

So my question to you: who is doing something productive for the generations to come
a. Clinton
b. Bush


The Iraq war you referred to ended in two weeks. Whatever happens after is named "occupation". US has long history of occupations; of countries named Germany, Austria, Italy, Japan, etc., or whatever country being lucky to experience and benefit from it.

Believe you or not, Bush administration made a good job to improve our environment. Low-sulfur diesel, aggressive heavy-duty diesel emission cups (way more advanced then in diesel-addicted Europe), Energy Bill, Yucca mountain depository, to name the few. If judge for his deeds, (I was not his fan, but changed my opinion according to what he did), he is doing OK on environment.

Surprisingly enough, (you never know where what you are doing is going to roll), his re-election was significantly defined by his environmental policy. Aggressive diesel emission policy of his administration triggered unbelievable rise of Caterpillar, the biggest world diesel engines producer and arguably possessor of world’s best diesel engine technology. It switched votes to Bush behalf in swing Mid-West states, where Caterpillar factories are positioned.

Shaun Williams

There's a bit much irrespectlessness going on in this thread. :)

The fact that big business is starting to point big numbers at our biggest problem, is all good. There are rumblings that some media moguls are starting to see the light which may help to enlighten the masses (or at least curb the misinformation). This may lead to consumer choice dictating that the rest should follow sooner rather than later.


What would be helpful is a list of mutual funds that the ordinary person could invest in that benefit Alternative energy and Bio fuels. It's nice to hear about what corporations and institutional investor are doing, but what can we do?

Rafael Seidl

Anon -

like other contributors to Pres. Clinton's initiative, Mr. Branson is spending his money not on long-term research but near-term production capacity, starting with his investment in Cilion. Ethanol is hardly an ideal fuel - especially for aviation - but investments in biobutanol and especially, BTL/TDP production sites may follow later.

Capitalism does tend to enrich the rich more so than the poor. However, historically all participants have benefitted in absolute terms in the long term. It is not true that "for every rich person hundreds have to be poor", though many may perceive their lot that way in *relative* terms.

Problems therefore occur when the gap betwen rich and poor grows so large and fast that political stability is threatened. Right now in the Western world, this natural dynamic is exacerbated by a combination of accelerating IT automation and the globalisation of manufacturing and services. The biggest danger to everyone's future prosperity is a protectionist backlash, cp. the collapse of the Doha trade talks. Unfortunately, emerging economies will pay little or no attention to global warming until they feel prosperous enough.

Andrey -

the Forbes article covers the 400 richest Americans. I did not check if all of them actually live in the US.

While Scaled Composites' Space Ship One cannot lift its payload into orbit, one of its successors is supposed to do just that. Also, bear in mind that a cargo version could be based on second-stage rockets that do not have to survive re-entry.

The current Congress pretty much rubber-stamps any spending the White House proposes and adds its own pork. The 3 billion figure referred to the DOE strategic roadmap that is specifically targeted at mitigating global warming. I did not refer to any other environmental spending.

As for "my reputation on this forum", you are entitled to your opinion - just like everyone else.


Regardless (not irr) of what we do, I fear that it will all be too little, too late. It is clearly too late to count on future technological breakthroughts to solve the problem. I appreciate what Branson, et. al have done, but I fear that we needed to have started 30 years ago to have a meaningful impact on global warming.

The scientists were wrong. Things are much worse than they thought and our arctic is melting much more rapidly than they predicted.

We, as a society and and as a world will only support painless, magic technological solutions when the problem is cultural and political. We will not cut back; therefore, much of the planet is doomed.

Harvey D.


How can we willingly accept to pay (year after year) 100s of $ billions for polluting fossil fuel from unfriendly dictators and question and/or refuse investment a few $billions in alternative cleaner energies from our own billionaires?

Do we realy know what we want?


"Do we really know what we want?"


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)