At the end of this course, you:
- have gained basic knowledge and understanding of the scientific basis of climate change.
- can explain the causes, mechanisms and consequences of climate change.
- have knowledge of what was agreed in the Paris Agreement and subsequent international agreements, and can explain the decisions made based on country (group)-positions and interests
- can explain the differences between global warming of 1.5˚C and higher levels of warming in terms of impacts, adaptation needs and the actions needed to reach that level of warming, and can place the 1.5˚C limit in context of the Paris Agreement and other international climate negotiations
- have gained awareness of and insight in the Dutch national climate policy process and the link between international and national processes
Climate change is one of the biggest societal, political and technological challenges humanity is facing today. Yet, although the science has been clear on the need to limit global warming since decades, the emissions of greenhouse gases are still increasing. Following a long negotiation process, in 2015, the countries of the world agreed on limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees and to strive for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, compared to pre-industrial times. In the subsequent Glasgow agreement (2021) the 1.5 degrees ambition was strenghtened.|
Despite the hallmark Paris Agreement, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions have not yet started to decline. This raises questions about how policymakers use scientific information on climate change and the impacts of global warming. Why is it so challenging to transform to a low-carbon society? What are options to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases? What is the potential of behavioural and lifestyle change? What does climate change mean for the Netherlands, and what actions is the Dutch government taking to reduce emissions and increase the ability to cope with the (future) impacts of climate change?
Climate science and climate policy are the central topics in this course. We will look into the physical mechanisms and societal causes of climate change, and dive into the consequences. We will use the latest IPCC report as a main source of information, adding other sources to provide more basic knowledge and context. Furthermore, we will explore what role science plays in the process of policy making for climate change, and look at the relation between international and national policy.
You will be introduced to the dilemmas and conflicting interests which define the relationship between climate science and climate policy. During a simulated United Nations climate change debate, you will be representing a country or a group of countries, and experience what it is like to negotiate and defend the interests of your country. In this climate debate, you will negotiate with other countries on how to act based on the latest science.
This course features an impressive list of quest speakers, amongst which a lead author in multiple IPCC reports, an expert on Dutch climate policy, the head of the Dutch delegation to the Paris Agreement negotiations, and a pioneer in the field of climate adaptation and climate justice.
This course will be taught in English and is also open to interested students from other faculties, for example students from the Faculty of Management who are doing the Sustainability Challenges minor.
The course consists of a weekly lecture (2 hours) and self-study based on the reading materials. Group work to prepare the simulated UN negotiations and corresponding assignment is not scheduled; each group can organize this themselves.
|This course does not assume any prior knowledge.|
- Written exam (75%, minimum grade required is 5.5). The first attempt of this exam will be a paper exam, the second attempt will be a Cirrus exam.
- Group assignment (25%). Short written assignment related to the simulated negotiations. No resit exists for this assignment.