Transcribed from a recent interview in Wales:
When you have a financial crisis there is a way to rescue it: you go to the taxpayer, the taxpayer bales you out. So there is a possible answer; Goldman Sachs can make risky investments and when it all crashes you take your copy of Hayek or Milton Friedman and run to the nanny state. But in the case of climate change the externality in this case… is the fate of the species. So when you’re making decisions as the director of a corporation, one of the externalities you can’t pay attention to is “what’s the effect on my grandchildren?” – you have to maximize short term profit and market share. In this case there is nobody to bail you out, no taxpayer can come and take care of it. But these are institutional necessities and that’s what makes them so dangerous. There is no point convincing a CEO that you shouldn’t be doing it; he knows it already. But if he doesn’t do it someone else will do it. It’s just the way the institution is set up; it’s the way markets work. To the extent that we have unregulated markets we’re going to get more and more of this. These (anti-climate change) propaganda campaigns in the last couple of years have had a big effect, you can see in opinion polls. Now about a third of the population thinks there is a serious risk of global warming. This is exasterbated by the recession, for a large part of the population it’s back to the depression, and worse because the jobs aren’t going to come back; people don’t want to hear about things that don’t matter to their immediate survival.