The Emergent Political Economies theme seeks to reimagine the core assumptions of economic, political, and social life. If we had to summarize the SFI approach in one phrase, it would be: “How do we change the rules of the game?” The rules that we have in mind relate on the one hand to the tax, trade, immigration, and insurance policies that modulate economic activity and inequality; and on the other those regulations, incentives, beliefs, and institutions that amplify or inhibit social and technological innovation. By focusing on the fundamental rules, we are also highlighting the fact that the hardest problems society faces involve emergent properties – an absolutely central focus of SFI science.
Climate change and the clean energy transition is a perfect application for thinking about how to change the rules of the game to achieve a fundamental reorganization of our energy systems, as well as our systems for managing impacts of climate change over the next century. This requires addressing disparities in wealth, in vulnerability, and in technological capacity, as new energy technologies emerge and as political will to pay for changes increase with growing awareness of the challenges. In this Symposium we explored the complex interactions of economics, politics, and climate change, asking how ideas from complexity science can lead to new approaches to one of the world’s most difficult and persistent problems.