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St Catharine's Political Economy Seminar Series


Date: Wednesday 12 February 2020
Speaker: Terry Barker
Talk Title: 'The institutional capture of IPCC economics by neoclassical ideology'
LocationRamsden Room, St Catharine's College

The seminar series is supported by the Cambridge Journal of Economics and the Economics and Policy Group at the Cambridge Judge Business School.

An audio recording of the presentation is here:

Terry Barker was a Coordinating Lead Author in the IPCC reports AR3 and AR4, 1996-2006, writing the chapters for sectoral mitigation. He was also a member of the team preparing the Synthesis Report for AR3, covering climate science, adaptation and mitigation. He led the writing group of scientists answering the question: "What are the most robust findings and key uncertainties ... regarding model projections of ... costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation options?" He is the Founder and Director of the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research (4CMR) in Land Economy. He is now a Senior Departmental Fellow in Cambridge and holds an Honorary Chair in The School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia. He is also Founder and Director of Cambridge Econometrics Ltd. He has written extensively on Post Keynesian economics and climate change mitigation policies for the UK, the EU, and at the global scale.

Talk Overview:
The Assessment Reports (AR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) bring together scientists from across disciplines to assess the literature on climate change, adaptation and mitigation. 

Most of the reports are reviews of the literature, which Terry Barker will not discuss, but the IPCC authors also instigate substantial interdisciplinary exercises with climate and energy-economy models to make and report projections involving the policies and their economic costs required to achieve climate stabilisation. Terry Barker asserts that the economics behind the projections in AR5, Mitigation of Climate Change, 2014, appear scientific but are the outcome of ideological assumptions about the economy, typically based only on one year's data.
The economic models used all involve General Equilibrium. Many are based on the premise that the global economy is in long-term optimal equilibrium, such that any deviation from that equilibrium, e.g. in the form of regulations and/or carbon taxes, will ipso facto lead to economic costs. Terry Barker will assess this and other aspects of this approach and the implications for the costs of radical cuts in emissions.

Please contact the seminar organisers Philip Arestis ( and Michael Kitson in the event of a query.

Wednesday, 12 February, 2020 - 18:00 to 19:30