GEN 2021 Annual Conference

GEN2021: The economics of climate change mitigation

The next GEN annual conference will be held on 25 February at Te Papa, Wellington

Registrations are now closed – the conference is full

Economics to support climate mitigation policy is a live topic here in New Zealand with the Government having enacted the Zero Carbon Act and reforms to the emission trading scheme and critically, in 2021, the Climate Change Commission delivering its first package of advice on 5-yearly emissions budgets and on policy directions for climate action in Aotearoa. The government’s next step will be to set a Plan for how the budgets’ emission reductions will be achieved.  This policy work will involve economists and policymakers across government agencies and outside of government.

Officials’ development of advice is already underway and recommendations made to Ministers on what should go into the government’s Plan will need to be underpinned by rigorous economic analysis. The Plan will span wide areas of policy: economic strategy, economic development and sector-specific policy including agriculture, transport, industrial processing, electricity generation. Understanding regional and distributional impacts will also be key to ensuring a Just Transition, especially as New Zealand also progresses from short- to longer term Covid-19 economic response.

The GEN conference is an annual gathering of economists and policymakers across government agencies, consultancies and academia. Come hear from experts in the field of climate economics, catch up with colleagues old and new, and stay for informal drinks afterwards. 

Due to the ever-present possibility of increasing covid-19 levels with restrictions on gathering size, GEN2021 is currently capped at 100 attendees – so register now!

GEN is delighted to announce Professor Michael Grubb and Dr Suzi Kerr as GEN2021’s keynote international speakers

Michael Grubb is Professor of Energy and Climate Change at University College London, was founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Climate Policy and served on the UK Climate Change Committee. Michael’s seminal book Planetary Economics reviews the development of economic thought and climate policy. Michael will discuss his approach of four policy pillars, across distinct domains of socio-economic progress, designed to support effective and more comprehensive climate policy design.

Suzi Kerr is Chief Economist at the Environmental Defense Fund and currently based in New York. She was, until May 2019, a Senior Fellow, and from 1998 – 2009 Founding Director at Motu Research in New Zealand, a leading New Zealand’s economic research institute: Motu is in the top ten global economic think tanks and top ten climate think tanks. Suzi graduated from Harvard University in 1995 with a PhD in Economics and 2010 won the NZIER Economics award. Suzi will give an international perspective: insights in where New Zealand is leading and where we can look overseas for leading practice in the use of applying economics to climate policy, especially in this covid era.

Professor Grubb and Dr Kerr will join us by zoom for the morning session, all other speakers will be present at the conference.

GEN2021 will start with the all-economy big picture, focus in on economics to support policy for specific emitting industries, and then consider us – humans – and how policymakers can drive changes in consumer demand

The conference will open with Climate Minister James Shaw (Parliamentary timetable permitting!) then we’ll hear from our keynote speakers – zooming in – on frameworks to support climate mitigation policy and on economic analysis underway overseas and what New Zealand can learn from other’s approach to applying economics to this policy challenge facing all nations.

We’ll hear from experts Professor Niven Winchester (AUT) and Concept consulting’s Simon Coates who are developing the evidence base supporting the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice, which in Feb 2021 will be open for consultation.

We’ll focus in on specific industries and hear from Scion’s Research Leader Dr Tanira Kingi on NZAGRC’s Māori-focussed Research Programme which has been working closely with Māori Agri Business entities on GHG mitigation strategies. We’ll hear from Landcare on their application of economics tools to sector mitigation policy and from ThinkPlace’s Martin Grant on behavioural insights with an on-farm focus.

The afternoon session will consider human beings: what can government do to support increasing consumer demand for low emission products?  We’ll host exciting interactive sessions from Matthew Ellingsen the co-founder of design thinking consultancy Empathy, Ben Gleisner the founder of CoGo and a new Westpac emissions consumption tracker app, and from the Mike Gwyther, Clemenger BBDO’s creative brain behind ECCA’s GenLess campaign. We’ll also spotlight innovative economics work underway across NZ’s government agencies.

GEN is delighted to launch the inaugural Dr Ed Hearnshaw Prize for economics and the environment

This year’s topic for GEN’s new Dr Ed Hearnshaw Prize for Economics and the Environment is on nudging consumers, so aligns with the conference’s afternoon theme. The inaugural 2021 prize winner will be announced at GEN2021. Let’s showcase the best of the thinking of the next generation of budding economists!

Register now:  GEN2021, 25 February in Wellington

GEN2021 will run from 9am to 5pm on 25 February 2021, at Te Papa, Wellington.

GEN will host networking drinks afterwards from 5 – 6.15pm, all welcome.


Earlybird – $460.00 – until 5th February

Standard – $520.00 – from 6th February

  • Morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and after conference drinks are included
  • Tickets up to 100 attendees will be released in December. If the conference sells out, registrants will be offered a place on the Conference waitlist. Those on the waitlist may be contacted in early February if a (Covid-related) 100-person limit on group gatherings looks unlikely – as GEN will then release further seats.
  • GEN prefers registrations paid by credit card. Earlybird registrations must be paid by the Earlybird close date of 5 February 2021 or your registration will be changed to the standard rate. From 6 February 2021 the invoice option for payment will no longer be available and only credit card payments will be accepted.
  • No group-attendee discounts can be offered.

This webpage, and the conference programme, will be updated as speaker topics and timings are confirmed. A full programme with all timings will available in early February.

Click here for the full GEN2021 Programme including session timings.