Backing up better policy

A field of green plants.

When Professor John Quiggin first began addressing climate change it was a little known and scarcely discussed topic in academic economics, let alone popular media.

Through dedication and substantive research work, which has focused on educating the public and engaging policymakers, Professor Quiggin has been an active participant in the movement that helped raise the agenda of this topic on the Queensland and world stage.

“Economics encompasses how the world operates – we can use it as a force to help drive positive impact and address major challenges,” Professor Quiggin said.

“Climate change is an issue which affects every person on this planet, their children and generations to come – it is our duty as academics and citizens to address this challenge as best we can.”

Engaging with the public and politicians has allowed him to support positive policy moves and has delivered real impact to the community.

“My work has primarily focused on policy measures – specifically those relating to the energy industry,” Professor Quiggin said.

“I’ve tried to write for a general audience rather than just addressing other academics.

“I want to talk to the policymakers who are creating law and the general public to help them understand an issue and to present them with the evidence that helps them make an informed choice and argument.”

Recently he has been using his research to elevate discussion around less carbon-based energy dependence.

“We can live much as we always have but with greatly reduced costs on the environment,” Professor Quiggin said.

Professor John Quiggin stands by a window.

Professor John Quiggin

Professor John Quiggin

“Australia does not have to depend on the carbon economy,” he said.

“We can decarbonise the energy industry.

“But it is important to look at practical ways we can do this – gradual steps that can be taken to make this transition as soon as possible.”

Professor Quiggin said there were three key steps that needed to be taken in the decarbonisation process.

“The approach we need has been described as a triathlon,” he said.

“The first leg is to replace carbon-based electricity generation with renewables. The second is to replace internal combustion vehicles with electricity. The third is to replace carbon-based technologies in industry
and change land use to become a net sink of carbon dioxide rather than a source.”

Read more stories about how research at the School of Economics is creating change, locally and globally.