UCL Department of Economics


Policy and Practice Public Seminar presented by Michael Grubb (UCL, ISR)

05 December 2019, 6:15 pm–7:30 pm


The Economics and Policies of Low Carbon Transformation

Event Information

Open to





Abi Turner


26 Bedford Way

The economics and policies of low carbon transformation: new theories and new approaches for tackling the climate crisis.

This lecture will present a new approach to assessing the economics of transformation, applied to our energy and climate change challenges, and outline the three pillars of policy required. On the economics, it will explain why, in the search for effective responses, traditional economic approaches have failed us and standard models have misled us. Drawing upon innovation theory and extensive evidence, an alternative approach to economic modelling reflects the pliability of our energy systems, demonstrates the added value of stronger action to cut emissions, and explains why we need broad-based action across many sectors rather than just picking out the ‘cheapest’ options first.

This approach also explains why energy and climate policy is about far more than just liberalising the system and putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions: the lecture will conclude by showing why any effective approach must comprise three distinct pillars of policy, and harness their interactions in a package for transformative changes.

About the Speaker

Michael Grubb


Michael Grubb is Professor of Energy and Climate Change at University College London, Institute of Sustainable Resources, working closely also with the UCL Energy Institute. From 2011-2016, alongside academic roles, he worked half-time at the UK Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (the energy regulator, Ofgem) as Senior Advisor, and then Chaired the UK government’s Panel of Technical Experts on Electricity Market Reform. His former positions include Senior Research Associate in Economics at Cambridge University; Chair of the international research organization Climate Strategies; Chief Economist at the Carbon Trust; Professor at Imperial College; and head of Energy and Environment at Chatham House.

Professor Grubb was founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Climate Policy, and served on the UK Climate Change Committee, established under the UK Climate Change Act to advise the government on future carbon budgets and to report to Parliament on their implementation. In 2013 he was advisor to the House of Lords European Affairs Committee Enquiry on European energy policy, published as No Country is an Energy Island.

Internationally, Prof Grubb was formerly a member of the International Advisory Council of the International Association for Energy Economics and is now on the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Economics Research Institute DIW Berlin, and advisor to the Foreign Office’s UK- China Energy and Low Carbon Economy Programme.

Michael Grubb is author of eight books, over fifty journal research articles, and numerous other publications. His book Planetary Economics brings together the lessons from 25 years of research and implementation of energy and climate policies, with a full Chinese translation published last year. It has received widespread accolade as a ‘seminal’ contribution, ‘comprehensive and profoundly important’ for its development of a wider theoretical framework of economics, and its application to the practical policies for tackling energy and climate change challenges.