Northwestern Events Calendar


WED@NICO SEMINAR: Penny Mealy, University of Oxford "Adjacent Possible Policies: The Climate Policy Space Conditions Future Policy Adoption"

Penny Mealy

When: Wednesday, October 26, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Central

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Emily Rosman   (847) 491-2527

Group: Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings



Penny Mealy - Economist at the World Bank, Research Associate at INET and the University of Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at SoDa Labs at the Monash Business School


Adjacent Possible Policies: The Climate Policy Space Conditions Future Policy Adoption


The feasibility of implementing climate policy – rather than technological constraints or economic costs – is now looming as one of the biggest impediments to keeping global warming below 1.5’C.  While it is often recognized that certain policies are possible in some contexts and not others, to date there has been limited quantitative or empirical analysis of the extent to which policy feasibility differs across countries. Drawing on a rich dataset of climate policies introduced across countries over the last 50 years, this paper explores global patterns in climate policy adoption and identifies climate policies that are likely to involve greater political effort than others. By constructing a ‘Climate Policy Space’ network based on the co-occurrence of climate policies across countries, we illustrate differences in countries’ climate policy adoption and their evolution through time. 

We also develop a measure of climate policy alignment and show that this measure is significantly predictive of future climate policy adoption. Based on this measure, we construct empirically validated climate policy ‘feasibility frontiers’ for each country, highlighting climate policies that are likely to be more feasible to adopt. While the exploring space of feasible climate policies paints a sobering picture for some countries, having a better understanding of countries’ policymaking realities could help improve the policy design process and increase the probability of successful climate policy implementation in the future.

Speaker Bio:

Penny Mealy is an economist at the World Bank, a Research Associate at INET and the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at SoDa Labs at the Monash Business School. Her work applies various methods from complex systems and data science to analyse the interrelated challenges of climate change and economic development. Her research has developed novel, data-driven approaches for analysing structural change, occupational mobility and the future of work, and the transition to the green economy.

Penny completed a PhD at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford University. She has held various research fellow roles at the Oxford Martin School, the Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at Cambridge University, and SoDa Labs, Monash University. Penny also has frequently advised international organisations, governments and businesses on green growth and development strategies.


NOTE: Penny Mealy is joining this talk remotely via Zoom. Attendees are welcome to join us in Chambers Hall as usual where we will project and moderate the talk. We will have boxed lunches for those in attendance.

In person: Chambers Hall, 600 Foster Street, Lower Level
Remote option:
Passcode: NICO22

About the Speaker Series:

Wednesdays@NICO is a vibrant weekly seminar series focusing broadly on the topics of complex systems and data science. It brings together attendees ranging from graduate students to senior faculty who span all of the schools across Northwestern, from applied math to sociology to biology and every discipline in-between. Please visit: for information on future speakers.

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