There is a number of things we, collectively, have to improve over the next 10 or 20 years. Food supply, energy supply, waste disposal, and so on.

Governments have a role to play … but how much is real change driven by the private sector via the profit motive?

Some argue that the private sector comes in too late when crisis has changed the economics of investment … but oil companies have been investing vast sums in alterative energy sources for many years. Of course it is in their interest …. but their long-term interest. They can play the long game.

With issues like carbon taxation, governments have shown an understanding of the fact that macroeconomic policy can drive change … but, overall, the results of such initiatives have been disappointing. Governments have pulled our of their long-term commitments to address shorter-term issues brought on by the global recession.

It seems perhaps the intuition is wrong … the private sector is capable of taking a longer-term view than the public sector which caves in to short-term pressures.