Sir Richard Branson hit out at Donald Trump's environmental plans
The multi-billionaire said it is “extremely worrying” Mr Trump is reversing the “positive moves” Barack Obama and George W Bush did before him.
Moments after Mr Trump's inauguration on Friday the White House’s climate change webpage had been wiped and today Mr Trump signed executive orders to allow two oil pipelines to go ahead which Barack Obama had halted last year.
Addressing the new president in a Sky News interview, the Virgin Group founder said: “People who make a lot of money out of things that aren’t doing the environment any good need to change.
“The coal industry for example is on its knees, although I’m sure Trump will do his best to save it.
“It shouldn’t be saved, it should die a graceful death and people should move from coal to green energies.
Donald Trump signed five executive orders to allow controversial pipelines to go ahead
“I find it astonishing what he’s had to say about the environment and about rolling back, I think, the positive moves President Obama and even President Bush and other people have done before.
“Obviously it’s extremely worrying and therefore I think business leaders worldwide are going to have to step in and work with the public in doing what we believe to be right.”
A post on the White House website after Mr Trump's inauguration suggests the new US President will scrap the America's strategy to tackle climate change.
A proposal in Donald Trump's 'America First Energy Plan' suggests getting rid of “burdensome regulations on our energy industry”.
This includes “harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule”.
Native Americans protested much of last year to get the Dakota pipeline to go around their sacred la
Richard Branson has long been a fighter for the environment
Sir Richard also said he and his team will attempt to persuade Mr Trump of the “scientific merits” of looking after the environment.
He added: “We’ve lobbied every new government that comes into power to persuade them of the scientific merits of our case and we’ll certainly try to do the same with the Trump administration as we have done with other administrations where it was easier as we were knocking on an open door.”
Earlier today Mr Trump claimed to be an “environmentalist” during a meeting of automobile industry leaders.
He said: “Our friends that wanna build in the United States, they go many, many years and then they can’t get the environmental permit over something that nobody ever heard of before.
“And it’s absolutely crazy. I am, to a large extent, an environmentalist. I believe in it. But it’s out of control.
“We want regulations, but we want real regulations that mean something.”
The majority of Mr Trump’s cabinet, most who have not yet been sworn-in, are either close to the fossil fuels industry or deny climate change exists.
Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt is to become head of the Environmental Protection Agency despite leading a lawsuit from 28 states against the agency’s clean power plan, an Obama initiative to cut carbon pollution from coal power plants.
He also wrote the debate on climate change is “far from settled”.
Former Texas governor Rick Perry is to take over the Department of Energy – which he famously wanted to abolish.
He too said global warming was an unproved scientific theory.
Tom Price, who is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, is also a climate change denier, as are several other soon-to-be department heads.
Earlier today the Obamas landed on Sir Richard's private island, Neckar Island in the British Virgin Islands, where they are taking their first holiday after leaving the White House on Friday.