Planetary Economics: the theory and policy of energy transformation

This talk will argue that our difficulties in tackling climate change can be traced to failures of theory: attempts to apply classical economic reasoning to issues outside of its plausible reach, and the lack of any consistent framework for integrating classical and alternative economic approaches into any coherent theory of transformation.

Drawing on the book Planetary Economics, this talk will map out three domains of decision-making each of which involves different actors, processes and for which our understanding rests on different theoretical foundations. Each operates at different scales of time and social entities. The unique characteristic of energy and climate change is that the issues raised span all three domains in approximately equal measure. The policy implication is the need for three distinct pillars of action. Far from competing, the book argues that these different pillars are complementary and that only packages spanning all three are credible, economically efficient and environmentally effective – and hence, politically stable.

Finally, the talk will touch upon what this implies for international strategy in the aftermath of the Paris Agreement.

Michael Grubb is Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy at UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (University College London), editor-in-chief of the journal Climate Policy, and Senior Advisor on Sustainable Energy Policy to the UK Energy Regulator Ofgem.

His research and experience have grouped broadly around four main themes:

· Energy systems and low carbon innovation, with emphasis upon the innovation process in the energy sector, particularly in relation to renewable sources and the design of support systems

· Carbon pricing and emissions trading systems, including design of the EU ETS and industrial competitiveness and the international coordination and development of carbon pricing systems

· International climate change responses more broadly including the UNFCCC negotiations, the Kyoto Protocol and its Mechanisms, and the wider challenges of international cooperation

· Integration of renewable electricity sources into electricity systems. Numerous publications and involvement in power systems modeling. Remained actively abreast of developments (for example through role as coordinator of the SuperGen Networks - Incentives workstream from Cambridge).


Research Programmes