Whenever I am faced with a problem, I try to reframe it as an opportunity. One of the most enjoyable and effective ways to do this is to set challenges.
One of the biggest problems facing the world is climate change. This has created numerous massive opportunities for innovation, not least in transportation. When we wanted to stimulate aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus to build more efficient planes, we created the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer to prove it could be done. The plane broke the world record for the longest non-stop flight around the globe, becoming a forerunner for the cleaner planes Virgin Atlantic and other airlines fly today.
Back on the ground, Virgin competes in the Formula E Championships to showcase the potential of electric cars. While the racing is thrilling and I love seeing DS Virgin Racing in action (especially when we win, like in New York recently!), there is purpose behind the competition. I wholeheartedly believe the championship will contribute to the acceleration of electric cars being widespread on our roads in the coming years.
Staying with vehicles, another area ripe for innovation is trucking, as I wrote about recently. While electric cars may be a more obvious candidate, increasing the efficiency of heavy-duty trucks would have a profound effect on emissions.
We founded the Carbon War Room (CWR) in 2009 to accelerate the adoption of business solutions to advance the low-carbon economy. Now merged with the Rocky Mountain Institute, CWR is launching Run on Less, a first-of-its-kind cross-country trucking roadshow that will showcase advancements in fuel efficiency.
Seven US fleets – representing nearly 11,000 tractors and 26,000 trailers - participated in the roadshow using current, commercially available technologies to haul real freight around the country. Equipped with different trucking efficiency technologies, drivers demonstrated how to achieve the best fuel economy in today’s highway tractors, saving money as well as carbon emissions along the way.
Run on Less proved that 10 mpg is possible using efficiency technologies that are available on the market today. If the 1.7 million trucks on North American highways today achieved the same level of efficiency as the trucks in the Run, they would save 9.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel, $24.3 billion and 98 million tons of CO2 each year.
It’s up to all of us to challenge ourselves to do it – and have some fun along the way. Challenges like this, with purpose and passion to pioneer clean energy, are leading the way. Go to Run on Less to find out more about the dollars and carbon emissions saved by investing in efficient technologies.