Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has likened climate change to World War III and criticised the Australian Government for failing to do more to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The Virgin founder said he is testing new recycled aviation fuel to be used in his planes but that governments needed to do more too.
“It’s going to need the world to take this problem very very seriously,” he told 7.30.
“Let’s pretend this is World War III.
“My feeling is that we need to convene governments and the business sector … on a global basis.
“I think (the Australian Government) needs to do a lot more and coal is definitely, I’m afraid, something that should be a thing of the past.”
Sir Richard is currently training to be an astronaut in the hope of travelling to space through his Virgin Galactic enterprise.
But he rejects the idea that means he’s given up on Earth.
“I think Earth is all we have really got,” he said.
“I think this idea that we are going to go and colonise Mars or the Moon and therefore we don’t really need Earth anymore is rubbish.
“Earth is astoundingly beautiful, it needs to be protected.”
Virgin Galactic is now competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX project but Sir Richard said he didn’t see the Tesla boss as competition.
“Fortunately, the amount of people who would like to go to space far exceeds the amount of spaceships we are going to be able to build, so I think we can live alongside each other,” he said.
“We are all offering different experiences, obviously we happen to think our experiences are going to be the best.”
‘The war on drugs is an abject failure’
Sir Richard is also planning to use his visit to Australia to lobby politicians to regulate drugs.
“The war on drugs has been an abject failure, it’s been a failure for 65 years,” he said.
“As a businessman, if I had such a big failure, I would have closed it down 64 years ago.
“Countries that treat drugs as a health problem, not a criminal problem, reduce the drug problem dramatically.
“And we would urge the Australian Government to stop locking people up for taking drugs and instead help those people and seriously consider regulating drugs.”
Opponents of decriminalisation argue that it encourages drug use and therefore puts more people at risk.
But Sir Richard said his policy ideas aren’t about promoting drug use.
“What we’re not doing is saying that alcohol is good news, cigarettes are good news, drugs are good news, but what we’re saying is regulate, tax and tell people the dangers,” he said.