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Branson Launches Gigaton Awards in Cancun With Challenge to Businesses

13 September, 2012

Businesses don’t always have strong representation at meetings on environmental issues,and yet the way companies do business often have a strong impact on the environment. The Gigaton Throwdown,a global competition hosted in Cancun this year,seeks to change that.

Founded in 2007 by Sunil Paul,an Internet entrepreneur and clean technology investor,the Gigaton Throwdown Initiative encourages business,entrepreneurs,and investors to work together to create climate stability and energy security. The first annual Gigaton Awards was hosted on Saturday,December 4 at the World Climate Summit in Cancun,in partnership with Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room.

Branson,best known for for his Virgin Group of over 400 companies (including Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Records),said at the Summit,reported in the Huffington Post,“It’s up to the business community to just get on and do the job.”

Paul,speaking of the changes that need to be made,added,“We need to spend $1 trillion a year on renewable energy and infrastructure investments. We are already spending $3 trillion a year on all energy expenditures. We must redirect a third of that.”

In other words,for the environment to be stabilized,global manmade CO2 emissions should be reduced by 17 gigatons - a gigaton is a billion tons.

Seven awards were presented on Saturday to companies with verified and substantial reduction of carbon emissions. Winner of the “best in class” award was global company 3M,which has reduced its emissions of greenhouse gases worldwide by 77% since 1990.

Nike,Reckitt Benckiser,GDF Suez,Vodafone Group,and Suzlon were among the six other award winners. 

All of the award winners were large companies,which was a matter of surprise to some members in the audience. Paul stated that “The biggest impact will come from large,established companies -- at least for now”,but also added that he expects to see new entrepreneurs claiming the awards in the near future.

He also told the audience of how he came up for the idea of the Gigaton Awards,when a friend made a casual comment to him,saying “You clean tech guys could make a lot of money and not make a bit of difference.” His story served to remind the individuals gathered there that the purpose is not just competition,but making the planet a safer,cleaner,and healthier place for all of us to live.

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