As the stage was set for a conversation between José María Figueres and Jules Kortenhurst – Chairman and CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room, respectively – it was apparent these two men share a motivating vision for a world that exists within its means.

“I’m in this because there is no Planet B,” José María began, “…So getting it back on course, from where we can have taken it, is a prime responsibility.” 

It was a neat ellipsis from the case for action set down by Johan Rockström in his previous talk, as their conversation quickly moved to the way we will win the fight on poverty, inequality and climate change by migrating to a low carbon economy. 

Exploring the business opportunities and job creation readily available for leaders who are quick to adapt, Jules reminded us of the moral imperative for action too: “I have four wonderful kids, and I can’t imagine leaving this planet in the same way we found it. It’s very personal.”

José María suggests that at least 50 per cent of carbon emissions can be reduced in a profitable way, a fact which initiated the founding of the Carbon War Room under the leadership of Richard Branson and Virgin Unite.

Reflecting on the merger of the Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute, Jules reiterated a recurrent theme for the day – the need for collaboration: “No one can pretend they can tackle this enormous challenge on their own, this is a global challenge.”

Read: What is the desired state of the planet and how can we maintain it? 

Both leaders recognise the importance of China and India becoming meaningfully involved in climate change discussions too. José María explained that China currently invests more in solar than the rest of the world, commenting “I think that China really gets it… my impression is that China is thinking of moving ahead to a low carbon economy as a strategic way of catching up with the West.”

José María suggests that at least 50 per cent of carbon emissions can be reduced in a profitable way, a fact which initiated the founding of the Carbon War Room under the leadership of Richard Branson and Virgin Unite. He is also deeply committed to the role his home country of Costa Rica can play, having served as its President for four years. By the end of this year, 90 per cent of his country’s energy outside transportation will be renewable. It is a case in point, as José María suggests, that “we know it can be done.”

Both men feel there was tremendous scope for countries like Costa Rica to sit alongside much larger economies, including the US and China, to become role models for action on climate change. As Jules reminded us again of the importance of collaboration: “We have to do it together.”

– This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

Read and watch more from the Virgin Unite 'Good Disruption' series.

Comment