Economists for Future

Economists for Future is an initiative started by members of the Rethinking Economics network in Germany and now spreading across the globe. It has been set up in solidarity with the Fridays for Future movement, which has brought together school children to strike in protest that their futures are being put at risk by insufficient action on the climate crisis.

Whilst young people are calling for rapid action to safeguard their futures, how are economists responding to this movement and its calls? Why are we not discussing the role economics has to play in delivering the future these young people are calling for?

Economists have failed to push politicians to action with the help of scientific facts. In many economic lectures there is still the idea of economic ‘pragmatists’ and ecological ‘dreamers’. Yet, climate change, as much as a scientific problem, is also an economic one and it is pragmatic to finally face this fact.

The influence of economics, and in particular a narrowly defined idea of what economics is, has contributed to our accelerating speed towards the point of no return: an understanding of wealth that neglects the natural foundations of life, implicit belief in progress and optimism that reinforces the impression that we can simply continue, barely addressing the genuine change needed for a rapid transformation to sustainable economic systems.

At the same time, students of economics urgently need the tools for change. They need to be empowered to act. Simply telling them that it is naive to question economic growth is no longer enough. Against the backdrop of climate breakdown, they must be taught to think about alternatives. What is the purpose of economic growth? Where do we need it and where not? How can the financial system be put on a new footing? How can we distribute wealth so that we can do less work? To deal with the magnitude of the challenge requires a huge intellectual effort. Instead of creating further obstacles through political trench warfare, students should finally be supported in this task.

Economists for Future is a platform under which economists – from students to academics, professionals to public – can come together to establish what economics must do to achieve our common future.

The first project is a petition similar to the Scientists for Future petition, declaring major points that have to change within economic research and teaching. We are looking for voices from across the Rethinking Economics movement and beyond to come together around this project.

There will be updates as Economists for Future progresses and the platform goes live. In the meantime, for more information on how to get involved, visit the website: https://plurale-oekonomik.de/projekte/economists-for-future/