Challenge Aims to Help Small Islands Reduce Fossil Fuels

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Sir Richard Branson's Carbon War Room is leading a push to make 10 islands independent of fossil fuels. Photo: Carbon War Room

Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room is leading a push to make 10 islands independent of fossil fuels. Photo: Carbon War Room

While dependence on fossil fuels is a global problem, it poses an even bigger threat for small islands that must import resources like oil, coal and natural gas. With rising sea levels caused by climate change, small islands find that their dependence on such fuels to survive is also the very thing that is threatening their existence.

As a way to break away from fossil fuel dependence, 10 Caribbean island nations have joined with the Carbon War Room and The Make Yourself Foundation to launch the Ten Island Renewable Challenge. The Carbon War Room, founded by Sir Richard Branson, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to discovering and implementing business solutions that reduce carbon emissions and promote a low-carbon economy. For the Challenge, they will work to make the islands dependent upon wind and solar power.

“We work as an ‘honest broker’ for islands,” Branson explained in promotional materials about the Challenge, “helping them identify the best available technologies, attracting the right experts and the investment, because we want to help them choose the best technology options for their islands, their economy and their people.”

According to a blog post written by Branson in September, the Ten Island Renewable Challenge will lead by example and encourage other, larger nations to move toward the use of renewable energy. Work has already begun in Aruba, and Branson says they will next expand to St. Lucia, Grenada and the British Virgin Islands before turning their attention to the Pacific Islands.

“There is no Planet B,” Branson wrote. “Let’s take good care of our planet. We’ll start by implementing renewable energy on islands, and then expand to the rest of the world.”

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