Richard Branson urges business leaders to work towards a world powered by the sun

British entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson has told business leaders that a renewable-powered world is feasible by 2050, adding that it would be "pretty dreadful" if the forthcoming UN climate summit in Paris did not achieve binding goals on global carbon emission reductions.

Branson told the gathering at the UN General Assembly in New York that the Paris conference, which will begin on November 30, is the ideal opportunity to make sweeping changes to the way the world sources and consumes energy.

In his speech, the tycoon called for an end to oil drilling in the Arctic, a cap on coal use, an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a global carbon tax – an expense he himself is happy to bear in the short term.

"Obviously I’ve got three airline, it won’t be great news in the short term, but it definitely needs to see a global carbon tax," he said.

Branson added that monies raised from a global carbon tax should be steered into a "big innovation pot", with the end result being, by 2050, "a world where we’re powered by sun, we’re powered by wind… we’re powered by other innovations."

To achieve this vision, the businessman stressed, "countries that are big oil producers, coal producers, are going to have to adapt, but the vast majority of the world will benefit.

"It will pull everyone out of poverty and it will be a really exciting world to aim for," Branson said.