Branson and Lovins

Merger of the Minds

Renewable energy’s white knight has joined forces with its Merlin.

By Amanda Rae February 1, 2015 Published in the Midwinter/Spring 2015 issue of Aspen Sojourner

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In December, Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room merged with Amory Lovins’s Rocky Mountain Institute, wedding Branson’s cash with RMI’s brains to fight the good fight against climate change. RMI is known for its analytical, solution-seeking approach, while CWR mobilizes capital. The two organizations will remain separate brands under RMI’s current CEO, Jules Kortenhorst.

RMI, the Old Snowmass- and Boulder-based think tank, has been at it since 1982, working to transform global energy in the name of clean and green. But what does Branson, who landed on the Forbes Billionaires List in 2014 and owns more than 400 companies, including Virgin Airlines, have to offer in the fight against climate change? As it turns out, a lot: he founded CWR to bring business prowess to a quandary government seems unable to solve. His organization is market-based, independent, and nonpartisan, made up of an extensive network of like-minded entrepreneurs who can effect change with their checkbooks. As founder, he is an integral part of the CWR/RMI alliance.4

“Sir Richard has offered his own Necker Island as the demo site for the installation of renewable-energy solutions,” says Kirsten Carlson, public relations coordinator for RMI/CWR. As for the merger, “It’s a tremendous opportunity for these two organizations to accelerate their impact in a transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Branson summed it up in a blog post on RMI’s web site: “By marrying Rocky Mountain Institute’s analytical rigor and energy-system expertise with CWR’s bold and agile entrepreneurial approach, together we can go further, faster.” In other words, this means war.

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