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Cambridge Journal of Economics
Year: 2013  |  Volume: 37  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 187 - 208

Towards a new complexity economics for sustainability

Timothy J. Foxon, Jonathan Kohler, Jonathan Michie and Christine Oughton    

Abstract: Some of the most important and urgent topics requiring economic analysis and policy advice are the problems of climate change and environmental sustainability, and what can be done to alter corporate and individual behaviour to deal with these issues. Neoclassical economists tend to focus on market solutions such as carbon trading, drawing on ideas of perfect rationality of actors and the appropriateness of ’marginal‘ analysis. To link such policies to the whole range of potential actions, from legislative and regulatory to changing individual behaviours, requires the economy and society to be analysed in its full complexity, recognising that ’marginal‘ analysis can be not just irrelevant but positively harmful when the need is for systemic shifts in economic and social trajectories. This article draws upon a seminar series on complexity economics to consider how heterodox economic analysis can be brought to bear on the issue of the environment, to develop a realistic policy agenda for change.

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