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Climate Change and Public Policy

Develop your knowledge of climate change policy and explore the innovations and unique solutions to the global climate crisis.

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Scientist and businessman trying to solve climate change
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Uncover the complexities of climate change

Climate change presents the most profound challenge to have confronted human social, political, and economic systems.

On this four-week course, you’ll explore the fundamentals of climate change. You’ll focus on the interaction between science, economics, and public policy, providing an introduction to environmentalism from the private sector.

Explore the common policy proposals to fight climate change

You’ll begin by focusing on China and the US, examining their climate policies and what changes they need to make to reduce their climate impact.

Then, you’ll look at a range of climate policy ideas, from command and control to carbon taxes. You’ll discuss the opportunities and challenges of each policy, allowing you to come to your own conclusion of which, if any, is the better option.

Discover innovative climate change solutions such as carbon capture and geoengineering

Energy production is the largest driver of climate change. As energy demand grows, the world needs to shift to cleaner energy sources and technological innovations.

This course will take you through a variety of clean energy solutions, such as nuclear, wind, solar, and natural gas. You’ll also explore the human innovations that are leading the fight against climate change, including geoengineering.

Learn from climate policy experts at the Adam Smith Center and the IER

This course has been designed and created by the Adam Smith Center and Jordan McGillis, Deputy Director of Policy at the Institute for Energy Research (IER).

McGillis has written extensively on energy policy, including IER’s 2019 White Paper on carbon taxes, which makes him well-positioned to provide you with a holistic and incisive examination of the causes, environmental effects, and policy implications of climate change.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Climate Change and Public Policy Basics

    • Course Introduction

      We will cover the following pertinent questions – What is climate change? Why is it happening? What is being done? How is the climate system investigated?

    • Climate Change Basics

      Let's get down to the nuts and bolts of climate change.

    • Public Policy Basics

      Find out how climate change has changed policy principles and priorities.

    • Regional Focus: China

      How has China responded to climate change?

    • Regional Focus: United States of America

      How has America responded to climate change?

    • End of Week 1

      Let's recap what we've learned.

  • Week 2

    Importance of Markets

    • Policy Ideas: Command and Control

      Command and Control policies are top-down solutions typically enacted by governments. How do they work and what role do they play in climate policy?

    • Policy Ideas: Free Markets

      In contrast, market-based solutions rely on decentralisation. How do free markets address climate change problems?

    • Policy Ideas: Carbon Taxes

      Carbon taxes are one leading example of a market-based solution to climate change. How effective are they?

    • End of Week 2

      Let's recap what was covered this week.

  • Week 3

    Energy Mix and Solutions

    • Energy Mix

      What is an energy mix? What are some energy solutions within the energy mix?

    • Energy Solutions: Nuclear

      Should nuclear energy be harnessed to mitigate climate change?

    • Energy Solutions: Wind and Solar

      Can wind and solar energy illuminate new ways of dealing with climate change?

    • Energy Solutions: Natural Gas

      How can we harness natural gas to combat climate change?

    • Energy Efficiency

      How efficient are cleaner sources of energy?

    • Electric Vehicles

      How are electric vehicles better for the environment?

    • Carbon Capture and Storage

      What is carbon capture and sequestration?

    • End of Week 3

      Let's recap what was covered this week.

  • Week 4

    Human Creativity and Technological Innovation

    • Importance of Human Innovation

      Most accounts of climate change do not factor the power of human innovation. How could it move the needle on climate progress?

    • Entrepreneurship

      If innovation is important, then entrepreneurs are the central actors in society. Indeed, environmental entrepreneurship promises a new wave of progress in our fight to improve the climate.

    • Geoengineering

      Geoengineering is one example of human ingenuity. While still in its early stages of research, one wonders what role it will play in the future.

    • The Importance of Local Decentralisation

      Central governments may often be too removed from the local environment. Local, ground-up solutions can prove to be more effective in mitigating climate change.

    • End of Week 4

      Let's recap what was covered this week.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Apply economic theories and frameworks to environmental issues
  • Explain how climate change is a public policy issue
  • Evaluate different climate policies and their effectiveness
  • Discuss the social and political challenges of climate change
  • Compare the commercial and environmental attributes of various energy solutions
  • Describe how market processes and human innovation achieve good environmental outcomes

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in climate change or public policy. It will be especially useful for students pursuing economics, political science, public policy, or sociology, and for professionals working in environmental and resources sectors.

Who will you learn with?

Dr. Bryan Cheang is an academic political economist from King's College London. His research is on economic development and public policy. He also is the Founder of the Adam Smith Center, Singapore.

Jordan McGillis serves as the Deputy Director of Policy for the Institute for Energy Research. He is an expert on global energy trends, international climate negotiations and climate change policy.

Who developed the course?

Adam Smith Center

The Adam Smith Center is an independent, non-profit organisation in Singapore dedicated to economics and public policy education.

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