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SDG Academy

Climate Change Science and Negotiations

SDG Academy via edX


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 and the process of creating the Paris Agreement.
  • 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


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

Taught by

Emmanuel Guerin and Jeffrey Sachs


4.4 rating, based on 8 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Climate Change Science and Negotiations

  • Dr Michael White
    This course was complicated but interesting. Professor Jeffrey Sachs discussed topics in depth, but the format was always as a lecture, and could be lengthy at times. The approach is academic. It brought us up to date on climate negotiations and the burning issue remains just how hard it is to get unaccountable states to agree to meaningful measures. States play too many games and cover this with international law: words may have particular meanings that are at variance with common usage. Aimed mostly at people who are left-brained, but the material is very relevant to our modern world.
  • This coarse makes you come across with the most common problem 21st century people are facing and shows you the way you are contributing to this problem.. Well organised lecture giving all details about the origin and solution of the problem. .Must take coarse for students
  • Anonymous
    Gives you detail about the most common problem 21st century people are facing. Shows you the ways in which you yourself are contributing to this problem, so remedies for the problem..
    A must take topic for people is what i feel
  • A Must-study course for those who are interested in global warming and climate change. The course detail discuss global warming in different aspect and the problems in negotiation between different countries.
  • A fantastic course to learn. Provides us with great content delivered in an organized way and help us understand the very notion of the word "climate" and the links attached to it.
  • Dhananjay Chauhan
    A course which makes us aware about our surroundings and the issues linked to it. Thus providing the knowledge of various linked issues and their possible solutions. Must go for it!
  • Sakshi Singh
    Interesting course with great content, delivered in an organized manner. Helps to better understand the changes in our surroundings. Go for it!

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