Thomas: who should take the lead?

Thomas: Who should take the lead in the transition to renewable energy? The current power companies (Exxon, Shell, BP)? And what would be the incentive? Or should the lead come from the consumer or the government?

Paul Gilding: Can companies like Shell be the change? I don’t think so, that is the short answer. We should separate: could it? Yes. Would it? Probably not. That is a different energy to head from than before. Old companies could be part of the change. And some will be, but only a small number I think. Five or ten years ago, I would have said yes, Shell would definitely be part of the change. Now, I don’t think so anymore. Is it worth them trying to make a change? Probably. You never know. That is the whole idea. You never know. So try! But the evidence so far is that those companies are very hard to change. And if they do change, it will be very hard, because of the threat from the outside, which is part of this process of change. The Dutch company, DSM, I saw this week, I think they will change. But it is complicated, because they are also part of this old system.

The biggest challenges for companies is to be courageous enough to break out the system. When the system or the market is saying that you have to do this, you should say: I understand but now we have to do this differently. Do not always follow the pressure from the markets or what your competitors are doing. It is not a technical challenge, it is not a financial challenge, it is a challenge of courage.

Governments should put in place the incentives for this change to happen. So that is probably regulation. And also focusing their policies on resilience: how do we build a society to be stronger? Investing more in community, investing more in economic policies that create happiness rather than just growth.

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