We are living through a climate emergency and, among the many profound challenges that this presents, the situation demands that the discipline of economics takes a hard look at itself.
Across the globe, young people are marching in the millions to demand that necessary action is taken to avoid catastrophic climate disaster. These climate strikers are calling on everyone to play their part in addressing this crisis.
Economists for Future is extending this demand to the economics community. Despite some exceptions, the overall contribution from economists has been nowhere near commensurate with the magnitude of the problem.
Where we have contributed, we have been largely unsuccessful: the market-based solutions have yet to deliver the emission cuts at the required speed.
In the context of the climate emergency, winning slowly is losing.
The task at hand
As the IPCC puts it, avoiding environmental breakdown requires “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.
We must radically change how we produce and consume to overcome the enormous challenge of decoupling economic activity from greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable resource use.
Yet, the real task is to meet this challenge while transforming our world into a more prosperous and equitable place.
Emergencies do not call for incrementalism, they call for an intervention. If the discipline which dedicates itself to studying the economy cannot sufficiently engage in the economic transformation that the climate science requires, then who else can be expected to do this? The responsibility and the opportunity is ours.
A discipline-wide response
Climate change is itself not “the subject” that economists need to address: it is a symptom of the subject. Economists must get to the root of this problem. We must move beyond the cognitive bandwidth that says it is only environmental economists that should engage in this crisis.
This is not about having more environmental economists. This is about the whole discipline embedding its thinking and its methodologies within the context of a finite planet.
Redefining what it means to “Think like an economist”
In the 20th century, economists tended to operate with the mindset that their task was to further human prosperity. In the 21st century, economists need to embed furthering human prosperity within the context of natural systems.
Economists must show the world that they take the climate science seriously by
Prioritising research and resources towards this issue
Teaching the next generation differently: the economists of the future must embed ecological concepts within their core thinking.
Making public and policy engagement on this issue a core responsibility
Who are we?
We are steadily growing movement of people committed to galvanising the economics community behind addressing the greatest challenge of our day: the climate and ecological crisis .
This initiative is lead by a group of students from across the globe, from Kenya to Germany, Great Britain to Chile.