GSI Policy Network and Economics of Energy Innovation and Systems Transition Lecture: Deciding how to decide, to accelerate low carbon transitions

A Global Systems Institute lecture
Date4 March 2021
Time12:30 to 13:30

Simon Sharpe will discuss the main lines of a contemporary policy debate on how to make effective decisions to achieve a low-carbon transition.


The global economy needs to be decarbonised five times faster over the coming decade than at present, to meet the international community’s goals for avoiding dangerous climate change.  Whether we manage this will depend not only on what policies governments put in place, but also on the more fundamental question of how they make policy decisions.  Many of the economic principles, models, and theories used by governments to inform decision-making are applicable only to marginal change in contexts of equilibrium.  But the challenge of global decarbonisation, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has set out, is to bring out rapid and deep system transitions in energy, industry, land use, transport, and the built environment, on an unprecedented scale.  This requires a different approach to decision-making.  As a recent update to the UK government’s official guide to policy appraisal recognised, decision-making in contexts of transformational change must involve consideration of system dynamics, feedbacks and tipping points.  The application of complexity science to economics gives us a new body of theory on which to build.  Studies of rapid technology transitions of the past show how this can be put into practice.  Simon Sharpe will discuss how this new understanding has significant – and hopeful – implications for both policy and diplomacy.

Zoom Details:

Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 920 7798 9239

Password: 417833

ProviderGlobal Systems Institute
Speaker(s)Simon Sharpe (Deputy Director of Policy Campaigns at COP26 Unit, UK Cabinet Office)

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