I think that events have now validated the science in the public mind. So, we are no talking about raising awareness so much as giving people a sense that they can do something about it. My strong sense is that what is missing in all sorts of levels in society, is the right kind of leadership to take that awareness and anxiety and to turn it into something that human beings are really good at which it is pursuing opportunities.
We know that if we base decision making on emotions, then you get into all kinds of trouble. But if you try to do something without considering peoples feelings then nothing happens. So, it is about finding the right way to mobilize people’s feelings. That is what is important about this approach and this way of thinking, is that it is really connecting climate change to things that people can visualize. For most people what they can see is a far more important motivator than the numbers or the ideas that they hear.
I think all ideas have some sort of influence over decision makers, but whether they turn into outcomes that actually make a difference in the world, that is a much more intricate, complex and difficult transition. In a lot of ways our politicians have become far less representative than they used to be, they are now far more like a marketing group, that offer sets of policies that they think voters might find attractive. So, I think it is important to think about how you get the political processes to translate those policy ideas into outcomes. A key theme that has come up several times in this conversation is that things people do together that make us feel and motivate us, and one of the things that we really do together is vote.
There are two things that probably influence boards of directors the most. If they are in a public facing business, like an airline, or something with customers, they care about what their customers care about. In non-public facing businesses, like fossil fuel companies or mining companies (like BP or Rio Tinto) interestingly they care most about what their own staff think that is enormously important to those sorts of companies, because they run not just on capital, but also on talent. And what we have seen over the last twenty years, as ESG investing has grown is just how important it is to be on the right side of a lot of these issues to recruit talent into those companies.
I think that the particular contribution that art can make to an issue like climate change is to throw a loop around the future and bring it into the present, in all those different forms that arts of all kinds can do. What is significant about climate change is that solving this problem is a giant opera, and there are an enormous number of parts on the stage, and nobody has written the libretto, we have all got a part to play.
I think art installations and immersive experiences art part of the solution, but it is not the solution. I think that the five most powerful words in any language are “can you help me with…”, and I think that is the bit we have got to mobilize if we are going to solve this problem, and that applies to all levels and to all different actors, all around the world. If people are asked to help to solve a problem, then their reflex is to say “yes”.
These are some excerpts of a panel discussion for BBC Sounds. The full discussion can be heard here: