Citizens assemblies are no solution to the climate challenge — we need innovation

Australia protests

At first sight, long-term swings in individual seats in Australian elections are a definite niche interest, one for the real trainspotter. But during a visit to Sydney University’s Complex Systems Institute, I noticed a fascinating piece in The Australian newspaper. The Australian Labor Party had a good result in the 2007 federal elections, and a […]

Extinction Rebellion hates capitalism, but they wouldn’t exist without it

Oxford_Circus_Extinction_Rebellion_April_2019

The Extinction Rebellion protesters on the streets of London seemed to consist of two disparate interest groups: pensioners and the young. Their shared connection is that most of them – certainly in the former group – seemed to be affluent. An identical alliance was observed a few months ago in the rather unlikely setting of […]

Time for an honest talk about the costs of climate action

Schoolchildren climate change strike

Sydney University’s Centre for Complex Systems does innovative work on a broad range of topics. But spending the last couple of weeks there has also given me a wider perspective on some familiar themes. Climate change is, quite literally, a hot topic in Australian politics. The country melted in 45-degree record temperatures in January, and […]

Hyperbolic discounting explains why the French are revolting over Macron’s fuel tax

Yellow Vests Revolution Event Protest

Economists have long argued that an effective way of reducing carbon emissions is by increasing taxes on energy consumption. This year’s Nobel laureate, Bill Nordhaus, advocated a global carbon tax over 40 years ago. The scientific logic is impeccable. But the practical politics of it are fraught with difficulties. To say that energy taxes, and […]

Why can’t we confront climate change? Behavioural economics explains

Hurricane Irma rescue

The devastating storms in America have kept the issue of climate change firmly in the public mind. But so far, it has proved very difficult for politicians to persuade electorates to change consumption patterns in ways which many scientists would like to see. More expensive air travel, steeper energy bills – these are not very […]

Valuing the Future. Why Climate Change Agreement is Hard

The two week long Paris conference on climate change seems to drag on interminably.  There are obviously many reasons why such summits find it difficult to reach meaningful agreements.  But a fundamental one is that the electorates of the West are being asked to bear substantial costs right here and now, in return for a […]