Climate change has still very little impact on today’s economics curriculum

Global discussions on climate change have revealed the deleterious effects of the main features of contemporary capitalism. First, the commodification of natural resources is a feature of the long-run process of financial expansion characterized as the financialization of the capitalist economy where social vulnerabilities have increased – mainly in developing countries. Second, market deregulation opened up new energy investment patterns in a context where institutional investors have assumed an active role in the selection of high profit potential projects. Under the expansion of monopoly-capital, deep concerns have arisen, since energy policies and investments could pass down social and environmental safeguards. In spite of these concerns, climate change has still very little impact on today’s economics curriculum.

Today, restructuring energy policies to face climate change require comprehensive solutions in order to include issues related to regulation and finance, technology and innovation, governance and politics, besides environment and social inclusion. The results of COP 20 in Lima, Peru (2014) highlighted many challenges to fix the climate change. First, there is the climate finance challenge as private actors are the main actors of the investment process while the governments lead the climate change negotiations. Second, there is the educational challenge both between children, young people and professionals to face the requirements to improve teaching practices towards the environment and disaster risk reduction. Third, there is the investment challenge of promoting a low carbon economy. The main problem does not seem to be technology, but the lack of suitable policies. Indeed, it seems to be a mismatch between the actions of the ministries of environment and the ministries of economy and finance all around the world.  This year, at the begginining of  COP 21 in Paris, the scenario of negotiations seems to reveal that there is a lack of articulation between governments and the private sector in order to promote changes in investment patterns and to face education challenges towards a green economy.

Considering this background, it is  a must for us economists to examine carefully  this important aspect of our real economies in a way that leads to a better understanding in order to include very widely this important part of the real economy into our economics curricula.  However, an understanding of modern economies cannot be arrived at without an understanding on of how climate change touches on development theories. Taking into account the relevance of these issues, some contemporary discussions should be included in the economics curriculum, such as: Could alternative energy policies be implemented in the short-run as they could play a decisive role in sustainable economic growth? How can new energy policies be articulated to financial and social policies? Are the US moving toward changes in energy patterns? Is China interested in building a strong partnership with other developing countries so as to face climate change vulnerabilities? Is another economic pattern of global development possible?




  1. Ernesto Vaihinger said:

    Estimo que el tema de fondo es la instalación del tema de los ODS en las sociedades civiles. La encuestas revelan un bajo nivel de conciencia al respecto. Su importancia radica en que sólo el consumo responsable impulsará decisiones en el campo de una producción que sólo responde a la demanda.

    • Maria Alejandra Madi said:

      Tu comentario es muy cierto. Hay que avanzar en la cuestión relevante: como promover el consumo responsable?

  2. This is such a big question. Among other things, economics curricula need to understand how central banking works, and how it could become a big part of the solution:

    The Green Climate Fund and other dedicated climate finance institutions could together create $300 billion a year of Green Climate Bonds, which would be perpetual, standardized, and interest-free. The central banks in developed and advanced developing nations could create $300 billion a year to buy the bonds, and they would hand the money to the Green Climate Fund and similar climate finance institutions.

    These organizations would turn the money around and offer it as free public grants to approved climate solution investment projects. As a result, the investment community would find the projects sufficiently enticing to invest up to $1.7 trillion a year, and the projects would go ahead. And the nations that pledged to provide $100 billion a year to the Green Climate Fund at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 could consider their pledges fulfilled.

    • Maria Alejandra Madi said:

      Thanks for your comment and interesting proposal. I have also defended the active role of Central Banks in financing a low carbon pattern of investment. Your figures show the technical feasibility of this kinp of proosal, The real challenge is political. Maria

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