Author: Prof. Michael Jefferson, Editor of the journal Energy Policy; Affiliate Professor, ESCP Europe; Professor, University of Buckingham.
I am drawing on forty years' experience of applying economic ideas to what we might call real world problems - in business organisations, a major multinational oil company, a global energy organisation, in relation to energy policy for various intergovernmental organisations, and in scenario development and application seeking to cope with future uncertainties on behalf of various institutions - the need to face up to uncertainty and recognise the limits of our knowledge has been ever present. Yet the need to analyse possibilities, and prepare for surprises and effective responses to them, has been an on-going responsibility. Here in particular, I will refer particularly to the ideas and works of the late Professors John Jewkes and George Shackle, with both of whom I worked and corresponded, and whose views have proved a good fit.
For heterodox economics rather than the neoclassical approach these ideas illuminate thinking about future possibilities, not least by drawing on historical experience and how things work in 'the real world'. Their value in producing scenarios cannot be gainsaid. The value of developing and applying the multiple scenario approach is in turn one to which I strongly adhere. But in such work there is little or no place for perfect knowledge or 'perfect' competition, little evidence of general equilibrium over time, often not a clear match between supply and demand. And the mathematics of simultaneous equations and modelling are often a cul-de-sac rather than a reliable guide to sound policy or a better future.