Michael Jacobs (economist)
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Michael Jacobs (born 3 December 1960) is currently the director of the Commission on Economic Justice at the Institute for Public Policy Research and a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy, University College London. He was previously a special adviser to former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Co-Editor of The Political Quarterly and the head of the Fabian Society. He has three children.
Jacobs' published work has ranged across environmental and climate change economics, social democratic and green political thought, and a variety of issues in public policy, particularly economic policy. His books include The Green Economy (1991), The Politics of the Real World (1996) Paying for Progress (2000) and Rethinking Capitalism (co-edited with Mariana Mazzucato, 2016).
Education and early career
Born in London in 1960, Jacobs was educated in state schools in Barnet, North London, and at Wadham College, Oxford, where he gained a First in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. After university he became a community worker and adult educator before joining, and later becoming managing director of, CAG Consultants, an employee-owned consultancy firm specialising in local economic development. Working with central and local government in the early 1990s, Jacobs helped develop the field of local environmental auditing and management and the implementation of sustainable development principles in land use planning.
Academic and political career
Jacobs's book The Green Economy: Environment, Sustainable Development and the Politics of the Future, published by Pluto Press in 1991, was an attempt to synthesise the relatively new fields of ecological and neoclassical environmental economics. Rejecting both the ‘green’ argument that environmental protection requires zero growth and the neoclassical approach of pricing environmental goods, the book argued for an essentially social-democratic system of ‘sustainability planning’. In this the state would use a variety of policy instruments, including taxation and regulation, to constrain the economy within biophysically-informed and publicly-decided environmental limits.
After joining the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change at Lancaster University in 1994, Jacobs published a series of papers on the philosophy of sustainable development and environmental economics and the politics of environmental policy. He edited a book of essays for the Political Quarterly on the latter subject, Greening the Millennium? The New Politics of the Environment (1997). From 1993 to 1996 Jacobs helped to found and co-ordinate the 'Real World Coalition' of NGOs in the environment, development, poverty and democracy fields, for whom he wrote a short book setting out an alternative agenda for British politics, The Politics of the Real World (Earthscan 1996).
In 1997, just after the formation of the new Labour Government, Jacobs was appointed General Secretary of the Fabian Society, the UK's longstanding left of centre think tank. Amongst other activities he established the Fabian Commission on Taxation and Citizenship, for which he wrote the report, Paying for Progress: A New Politics of Tax for Public Spending (Fabian Society 2000). The report argued for a hypothecated income tax to fund the National Health Service, and was perceived as influencing Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown's 2002 Budget, which raised National Insurance contributions and earmarked the revenue for the NHS. Jacobs' other writing at the Fabians included the pamphlets Environmental Modernisation: The New Labour Agenda (Fabian Society, 1999), and the report of the Fabian Commission on The Future of the Monarchy (Fabian Society 2003).
In January 2004 Jacobs was appointed a member of the Council of Economic Advisers at the UK Treasury, responsible for advising the Chancellor on environmental, health and public services policy and spending. While at the Treasury he originated the influential Stern Review and Report on the economics of climate change.
When Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007 Jacobs became a Special Adviser in the No 10 Policy Unit. From 2007 to 2010 he played a central role in the radical overhaul of the UK's climate and energy policy including the 2008 Climate Change Act, the creation of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the 2009 Low Carbon Transition Plan, Renewable Energy Strategy and Low Carbon Industrial Strategy. He helped direct the UK's international climate strategy and was a key figure in the negotiations leading up to and at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
After leaving government in May 2010, Jacobs was made a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy at University College London. He became co-editor of The Political Quarterly (2012–14) and wrote on the relationship between left and green political thought. He was also appointed Visiting Professor in the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, where his research looked at the discourse of 'green growth'.
From 2012 to 2015 his work increasingly focused on securing a new international climate change agreement, initially with the philanthropic Children's Investment Fund Foundation then at l'Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI) in Paris, and through the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which he helped to found. He advised the French and UK governments, the UN Secretary-General's office and a network of non-governmental and business organisations on strategy for the UN climate conference in Paris which took place in December 2015. He was a lead author of the Global Commission's report Better Growth, Better Climate, published in September 2014, which was widely seen as influencing debate on the compatibility of economic development and climate action. He directed its second report, Seizing the Global Opportunity: Partnerships for Better Growth and a Better Climate, published in July 2015.
Michael Jacobs' book Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, co-edited with Mariana Mazzucato, was published in August 2016. The book brings together essays by a number of leading economists challenging orthodox economic theory and policy. Jacobs' and Mazzucato's introductory essay sets out the book's core thesis that to address the fundamental weaknesses of contemporary western capitalism a more pluralist approach to economic theory and policy is required, drawing on evolutionary, institutional and post-Keynesian traditions.
After a short period as Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, in October 2016 Jacobs was appointed Director of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, a two-year programme to examine the challenges facing the UK economy and make recommendations for its reform.
- Institute for Public Policy Research
- The Political Quarterly
- The Green Economy: Environment, Sustainable Development and the Politics of the Future, 1991
- The Politics of the Real World: Meeting the New Century, Real World Coalition, 1996
- Paying for Progress: A New Politics of Tax for Public Spending (2000)
- Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato, August 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
- Michael Jacobs' Biography
- Greening the Millennium?: The New Politics of the Environment, Michael Jacobs (Editor), January 1998, Wiley-Blackwell
- Fabian Society
- Blair's biggest U-turn, The New Statesman, 27 November 2000
- Tax bills rise to boost NHS, BBC News 17 April 2002
- Environmental modernisation: the new Labour agenda, Michael Jacobs, 1999, Fabian pamphlet (391), Fabian Society
- Radical changes proposed for monarchy, BBC News, 15 July 2003
- The Economics of Climate Change, The Stern Review, Nicholas Stern
- The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, HM Government, July 2009
- The UK Renewable Energy Strategy, HM Government, July 2009
- Low Carbon Industrial Strategy: A Vision, HM Government, March 2009
- What really happened at Copenhagen? BBC News, 24 November 2010
- Department of Political Science and School of Public Policy at University College London
- The Political Quarterly
- Green Social Democracy, Fabian Review, 21 January 2013
- Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics
- Green Growth: Economic Theory and Political Discourse, in R. Falkner (ed), Handbook of Global Climate and Environmental Policy, Wiley Blackwell, 2013
- The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
- l’Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales (IDDRI)
- "Global Commission on the Economy and Climate". NewClimateEconomy.net.
- "Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report". NewClimateEconomy.net.
- "Seizing the Global Opportunity: Partnerships for Better Growth and a Better Climate". NewClimateEconomy.net.
- Rethinking Capitalism: An Introduction
- IPPR : Michael Jacobs, Director of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice.
- Justin Welby to help UK thinktank build vision of post-Brexit economy, Guardian, 17 November 2016.
- Michael Jacobs, The Guardian.
- Out of shape: taking the pulse of the UK economy, Michael Jacobs, Alfie Stirling and Catherine Colebrook, Institute for Public Policy Research, November 2016.
- The Autumn Statement is just the start of rebuilding our economy, Michael Jacobs, New Statesman, 18 November 2016.
- If Theresa May is serious about inequality she'll ditch Osbornomics, Michael Jacobs and Mariana Mazzucato, Guardian, 19 July 2016.
- Don't panic, Brexit doesn't have to spell gloom for the environment, Michael Jacobs, Guardian, 30 June 2016.
- High pressure for low emissions: how civil society created the Paris climate agreement, Michael Jacobs, Juncture / Inside Story, March 2016.
- The Paris Agreement is highly ambitious and very clever, Michael Jacobs, Grantham Research Institute / Green Alliance blog, 18 December 2015.
- New Climate Economy: it's not just another report, Responding to Climate Change / Climate Home, 16 September 2014.
- A new politics: why we need cooperation between the Greens and Labour, Michael Jacobs, Resurgence, November–December 2013.
- Making sense of Snowden, Michael Jacobs, Political Quarterly blog, 17 October 2013.
- Housing, places and people: Labour and the fifth wave of social environmentalism, Michael Jacobs, in Green Social Democracy: Better Homes in Better Places, ed Matthew Spencer et al, Green Alliance, September 2013.
- Explaining radical policy change: the case of climate change and energy policy under the British Labour Government 2006–10, Neil Carter and Michael Jacobs, Public Administration, August 2013.
- Beyond the social market: rethinking capitalism and public policy, Michael Jacobs, Political Quarterly, Vol 84, No 1, January–March 2013.
- Green social democracy can rescue capitalism from itself, Michael Jacobs, New Statesman, 19 January 2013.
- Green growth: economic theory and political discourse, Michael Jacobs, Grantham Research Institute Working Paper, London School of Economics, October 2012.