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Climate Change Science and Negotiations

Humanity is up against a tight timeline to address climate change. Learn how we can deeply decarbonize the global energy systems, and put the world on a 2°C pathway.

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Starts Sep 23
Estimated 10 weeks
2–4 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

The time to address climate change is now. The mean surface temperature of the Earth has risen dangerously and spurred devastating impacts – and not just on natural ecosystems worldwide, but on daily human life. We are currently on pace towards a temperature increase of 4°C or more this century, while scientists and policymakers propose targets of just 1-2°C to avoid the total destruction of the planet.

In this course, learn solutions to mitigate the effects of the global greenhouse gas emissions causing temperature rise, and how to apply these solutions in different national contexts improvements.

Please note:

  • This course was created before the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP21 – in Paris. While the political situation has shifted rapidly, this course provides a solid overview of the science behind climate change.
  • Climate Change Science and Negotiations is a single-semester course. Please ignore all references to a second semester.

This course is for:

  • Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students in the fields of sustainable development, environmental science, sustainable business, international relations or related fields who are interested in the latest on climate change
  • Climate change activists who want a concise overview of the current issues shaping debate and action
  • Sustainable development practitioners – as well as private-sector actors, such as corporate sustainability and responsibility groups and those who work in the technology or energy industries – who need to understand key issues and facts about climate change, including emissions targets and emerging regulations

At a glance

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • The basics of climate change, energy balance, and emissions
  • The 2-degree limit and why it’s important
  • The role of nuclear power, electric vehicles, and other technologies
  • The process of global negotiations and agreements to regulate climate change

Module 1: Towards a New Climate Change Agreement

  • The Challenge of Human Induced Climate Change
  • The History of Climate Change Science
  • The UNFCCC
  • From Kyoto to Copenhagen
  • Towards COP21

Module 2: The Basics of Climate Change Science

  • The Earth’s Energy Balance
  • The Greenhouse Gases and Feedbacks
  • The Relentless Rise of CO2
  • Other Drivers of Climate Change
  • Recent History of Climate Change

Module 3: The 2-Degree Limit

  • The Business As Usual Trajectory
  • The Consequences of the BAU Trajectory
  • Limiting the Mean Surface Temperature Increase Below 2-Degrees Celsius vs. Pre-Industrial Levels
  • Debates Over the 2-Degree Celsius Limit

Module 4: The 2-Degree Carbon Budget

  • What is a Carbon Budget?
  • What is the Global Carbon Budget for the 2-Degree Limit?
  • What is the Global Emissions Reduction Pathway for the 2-Degree Limit?
  • How Does It Compare with the Potential Emissions from Fossil Fuel Reserves & Resources?

Module 5: The Deep Decarbonization of Energy Systems

  • What is an Energy System?
  • Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Trends
  • The 3 Pillars of the Deep Decarbonization of Energy Systems
  • A Global Mitigation Scenario

Module 6: The Key Technological Challenges of Deep Decarbonization

  • The Need for Accelerated Development of Low-Carbon Technologies
  • Key Technology Areas for RDD&D
  • Grid Management of Power Systems with High Penetration of Renewable Energies
  • Carbon Capture & Sequestration
  • Advanced Nuclear Power
  • Electric Vehicles and Advanced Biofuels
  • The Role of Technology Roadmaps and Roundtables

Module 7: Deep Decarbonization Pathways: Country Case Studies

  • Why Countries Need Deep Decarbonization Pathways to 2050
  • The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project
  • What We Learn From Countries’ Deep Decarbonization Pathways
  • Lessons for the Global Agreement on Climate Change at COP21 in Paris in 2015

Module 8: Energy & Development

  • Energy & Poverty
  • A World Without Modern Energy
  • Energy for All in Africa
  • How Climate Change Threatens the Poorest of the Poor
  • Sustainable Energy for All

Module 9: Main Challenges of Climate Change Negotiations

  • Efficiency & Fairness
  • Basic Principles of a Global Agreement
  • What is Fair?
  • Making an Agreement Stick
  • Problem-Solving Versus Negotiating

Module 10: Towards a New Climate Agreement Based on 2-Degrees Celsius

  • The Three-Tiered Structure of Mitigation Commitments
  • Technology RDD&D
  • Climate Financing
  • Can Everybody Win? Should Everybody Win?
  • Achieving Large Global Goals

About the instructors

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