Michael is Professorial Fellow in SPERI. He is an economist and political theorist, specialising in post-neoliberal political economy, climate change and environmental policy, and green and social democratic thought. As Head of Engagement and Impact, he is responsible for oversight and leadership of SPERI’s activities to reach non-academic audiences and policymakers, and to achieve real-world impact from SPERI’s research.

Michael leads SPERI’s Corporate Power & the Global Economy research theme.

Prior to joining SPERI Michael was Director of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, based at the UK think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research. He was principal author and editor of the Commission’s final report Prosperity and Justice: A Plan for the New Economy (2018).

Originally a community worker and adult educator, Michael later became a director and then managing director of CAG Consultants, where he worked in local economic development and sustainable development. He was subsequently an ESRC research fellow at Lancaster University and the LSE. He was General Secretary of the think tank and political association the Fabian Society from 1997-2003.

From 2004–2007 Michael was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers at the UK Treasury, and from 2007–2010 he was a Special Adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with responsibility for energy, environment and climate policy.

After leaving government in 2010, Michael advised governments and others on international climate change policy in the run-up to the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015. He was a founder and senior adviser to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

Research Interests

Michael works primarily on post-neoliberal political economy. He is currently researching the concept of a ‘paradigm shift’ in economic thought, policy and discourse. This includes empirical work on current developments in economic theory and research, and theoretical work on the development of a non-neoclassical economic synthesis.

Michael continues to write on climate change and environmental policy and on social democratic and green political thought.

In May 2019 Michael gave his inaugural lecture which was entitled ‘Ideas and Power: reflections on politics, environmental crisis and economic paradigm shifts’ The lecture is available to read and listen to here.

Key Publications


  • 2018 Prosperity and Justice: A Plan for the New Economy (lead author), Polity / IPPR.
  • 2016 Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth (edited with Mariana Mazzucato), Wiley Blackwell.
  • 2000 Paying for Progress: A New Politics of Tax for Public Spending, Fabian Society.
  • 1997 Greening the Millennium? The New Politics of the Environment (ed), Blackwell.
  • 1996 The Politics of the Real World, Earthscan.
  • 1991 The Green Economy: Environment, Sustainable Development and the Politics of the Future, Pluto Press.


  • Carter, N. and Jacobs, M. (2014) ‘Explaining radical policy change: the case of climate change and energy policy under the British Labour Government 2006-10’, Public Administration, 92 (1), pp125–141.
  • Jacobs, M. (2012) ‘Green growth: economic theory and political discourse’. In R. Falkner (ed), Handbook of Global Climate and Environmental Policy, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, pp197-214.
  • Aldred, J. and Jacobs, M. (2000) ‘Citizens and wetlands: evaluating the Ely citizens’ jury’, Ecological Economics 34 (2) pp217-23.
  • Jacobs, M. (1999) ‘Sustainable development as a contested concept’.  In A. Dobson (ed), Fairness and Futurity: Essays on Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp21-45.
  • Jacobs, M. (1997), ‘Sustainability and markets: on the neoclassical model of environmental economics’, New Political Economy 2 (3) pp365-385.
  • Jacobs, M. (1997) ‘Environmental valuation, deliberative democracy and public decision-making institutions’. In J. Foster (ed), Valuing Nature? Economics, Ethics, Environment. London: Routledge, pp211-231.
  • Jacobs, M (1995) ‘Sustainable development, capital substitution and economic humility: A response to Beckerman’. Environmental Values 4 (1) 1995, pp57-68.
  • Ekins, P. and Jacobs, M. (1994) ‘Environmental sustainability and the growth of GDP: conditions for compatibility’. In V. Bhaskar, and A. Glyn (eds), The North, the South and the Environment, London: Earthscan, pp9-46.
  • Jacobs, M. (1994) ‘The limits to neoclassicism: towards an institutional environmental economics’ In M. Redclift and T. Benton (eds), Social Theory and the Global Environment, London: Routledge, pp67-91.