Online Climate Course
An online course on the basics of climate change

This online course provides an easy and flexible way to learn all basics about climate change. You can go through the course in your own time and determine the speed yourself.

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Module 1: The big four

This module introduces you to the essence of global climate change. The four main aspects that make it different than other environmental problems are elaborated on. After this module you will know why we should act now.

  •    Duration:   2.25 Min
  •    Themes:   Global climate change, the big four
  •    Further thinking:   What are the opportunities that you can make up out of the problem characteristics?

QUIZ: Module 1: The big four

Question 1.1What are the four most important characteristics of the GCC-problem?

Question 1.2What effects are ‘locked-in’ after carbon-dioxide emission?

Module 2: Brief history

The global warming issue is not only recently accelerated by human beings, it is also recently discovered and acted upon by human beings. This module will introduce you to the timeline of important research discoveries and political commitments. After this module you will know what is meant by ‘Kyoto protocol’.

  •    Duration:   7.34 Min
  •    Themes:   Climate goals, brief history
  •    Further thinking:   How can you contribute to the last Paris-commitment?

QUIZ: Module 2: Brief history

Question 2.1What happened in 1869?

Question 2.2When was the first time in history that countries committed to binding targets of CO2 emissions?

Module 3: The natural greenhouse effect

In this module the greenhouse effect will be elaborated on and explained. The distinction between natural greenhouse effect and the effect of human beings (industrial revelution and onwards) in it will be spoken about. The whole cycle of greenhouse gasses and global warming is covered by this module.

  •    Duration:   3.25 Min
  •    Themes:   Solar radiation, infrared, heating, rising temperatures, carbondioxide
  •    Further thinking:   Have you ever experienced or felt the result of global warming/heat?

QUIZ: Module 3: Rising CO2 concentrations

Question 3.1The earth transforms sunlight into?

Question 3.2Where does most of the (by the earth) emitted heat go?

Module 4: Rising CO2 concentrations

In this module we are diving deeper into the precise gasses, sources and processes of which the greenhouse effect is made up. It answers the questions ‘what’s the problem with the carbon-cycle and rising CO2concentrations?’. Although it is not uplifting, this module makes sure you’ll have to face the facts of the graphs.

  •    Duration:   8.03 Min
  •    Themes:   Rising CO2 concentrations, carbondioxide, CO2
  •    Further thinking:   How do you think the future looks now that you know more of CO2?

QUIZ: Module 4: Rising CO2 concentrations

Question 4.1What is not a source of CO2?

Question 4.2The co2 that stays in the atmosphere is a?

Module 5: Greenhouse Gasses

Now we know how CO2 gets (and stays) in the cycle we can zoom in on the types of gasses and emitting sources. Divided by sector and sources we’ll see at the end of this module where action has to be taken.

  •    Duration:   8.05 Min
  •    Themes:   Greenhouse gasses, pollution, greenhouse gas sources
  •    Further thinking:   In what sector does your company perform?

QUIZ: Module 5: Greenhouse Gasses

Question 5.1What’s the most emitted type of gas?

Question 5.2What source of electricity is hardly responsible for CO2 emissions?

Module 6: Global warming potential

This module answers the question ‘what gasses are most influential on global heating’. It explains the carbon dioxide equivalent which makes it possible to compare different types of gasses.

  •    Duration:   5.03 Min
  •    Themes:   CO2E, carbondioxide equivalent
  •    Further thinking:   Which gas within the CDE-table are you most likely of influence on?

QUIZ: Module 6: Global warming potential

Question 6.1What gas has the most global warming potential?

Module 7: Climate impact

In this module the main areas impacted by climate change will be elaborated on. Not only the negative but also positive developments are explained. The modules ends with tipping points: the places on earth where climate change could create a disruptive change in the planet’s climate.

  •    Duration:   10:55 Min
  •    Themes:   Impact areas, cryosphere, tipping points
  •    Further thinking:   What negative impact triggers you the most and why?

QUIZ: Module 7: Climate impact

Question 7.1Why is the melting of ice a feedback loop to the global heating process?

Question 7.2What will happen to the temperature if the Atlantic circulation collapses?

Module 8: Uncertainty

The uncertainty concerning climate impacts will be covered by this module. There are three layers of uncertainty which will be elaborated on. After this module you will comprehend why it is so hard to act effective and calculate precise what we should do or do not.

  •    Duration:   13:40 Min
  •    Themes:   Uncertainty, Climate sensitivity, Climate impact, economic effects, CO2E PPM
  •    Further thinking:  
    What uncertainties or unknown impacts could touch upon your companies work?
    What do you think, should we take action now or wait?

QUIZ: Module 8: Uncertainty

Question 8.1What is the effect of rising GHG concentrations called as well?

Question 8.2What things are hard to express in monetary value?

Module 9: Climate change responses

This module is, instead of looking to the problems posed by climate change, diving deeper into the solutions that are here. The three main types of handling the climate change and trying to cope with or prevent it are elaborated on. After having seen this module you will be able you categorize different types of climate change measures.

  •    Duration:   13:39 Min
  •    Themes:   Climate adaptation, climate mitigation, geoengineering
  •    Further thinking:  
    What part(s) of the MACC graphic do you recognize or does your company support?
    Would you rather take safe but less effective measures, or take a risk and have a large positive impact on climate change?

QUIZ: Module 9: Climate change responses

Question 9.1What is the name of ‘active climate manipulation by large scale interventions’?

Question 9.2What is solar radiation management?

Module 10: Institutional Framework

In this module the institutional framework that has been created to address climate change will be discussed. The different COP’s that the UNFCCC has had will be talked about, as well as the main content of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Also the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific panel of the UN, will be spoken about.

  •    Duration:   10:58 Min
  •    Themes:   Governance, instituional framework, UNFCCC, Paris agreement, IPCC
  •    Further thinking:  
    What part of the Paris Agreement (2015) appeals to you most?
    Can you find what NDC your country has committed to?

QUIZ: Module 10: Institutional Framework

Question 10.1Where does UNFCCC stand for?

Question 10.2What can developing countries count on regarding the Paris Agreement?

Module 11: Tragedy of the commons

In this module the fundamental economic reasons why climate change exists will be talked about. Things as negative externalities, open resources and tragedy of the commons will be elaborated on. After seeing this module you will comprehend why plants aren’t likely to pay for the climate costs themselves.

  •    Duration:   9:09 Min
  •    Themes:   Negative externalities, open resources, open-pool resources, tragedy of the commons
  •    Further thinking:  
    Can you find a brand that does pay for the negative climate impact it makes?

QUIZ: Module 11: Tragedy of the commons

Question 11.1Why would the imaginary plant not pay to prevent the costs?

Question 11.2Overfishing is the effect of …

Module 12: Command and control

This module is about the policy and governance that can help to safe the climate. In comparison to market based strategies the command and control strategy has pro’s and con’s in regard to how effective they are. After this module you will be able to list them all.

  •    Duration:   5:17 Min
  •    Themes:   Conventional regulation, command and control, governance, environmental protection agency
  •    Further thinking:  
    What are the drawbacks of conventional regulation?
    For what economic sector do you think conventional regulation would work?

QUIZ: Module 12: Command and control

Question 12.1Why could it be hard for governments to set standards for GHG-emissions?

Question 12.2Why was it hard for the Obama government to create conventional regulation for the electricity sector?

Module 13: The Pigouvian tax

In this module the Pigouvian Tax (or carbon tax) will be explained and elaborated on. After having done this module you will know where the interesting name comes from, know how the Pigouvian Tax works and recognize its implications for the economic market forces.

  •    Duration:   12:12 Min
  •    Themes:   Pigouvian Tax, carbon tax, Arthur Pigou
  •    Further thinking:  
    What type of discouraging technique would work for your firm do you think; Command and control or the Pigouvian Tax?
    Would you pay more for a product because it is very polluting?

QUIZ: Module 13: The Pigouvian tax

Question 13.1What is a goal of the Pigouvian Tax?

Question 13.2Why is reducing the first ton of emissions probably the cheapest?

Module 14: Cap and trade

The Cap and Trade system is also a marketbased instrument which will be explained and talked about. This module is probably the most economic science-like. After this (and the previous two) module(s) you will have some insight in tools and measures governments can choose from to decourage firms from carbondioxide-use or other polluting strategies.

  •    Duration:   15:23 Min
  •    Themes:   Cap and trade, permits, Martin Weitzman, reducing emission
  •    Further thinking:  
    With what other company could your company join forces to level the carbondioxide footprint?
    What arguments in choosing for one or the other measure appeal to you the most?

QUIZ: Module 14: Cap and trade

Question 14.1How comes all companies eventually will pay the same abatement costs after reaching the cap-standard?

Question 14.2Where did the research into the effects of both carbon tax and cap and trade start?

Module 15: Low carbon technologies

In this module the technologies who have no or low carbon use will be explained. The advantages and disadvantages of each technology will be elaborated on and after this module you will have an overall idea of the options in generating energy.

  •    Duration:   11:09 Min
  •    Themes:   Low carbon technologies, renewable energy, hydropower, nuclear energy
  •    Further thinking:  
    What are your thoughts on nuclear energy, should we start using it more?
    What do you consider the best renewable energy option (with other words; what would you accept to have in your backyard)?

QUIZ: Module 15: Low carbon technologies

Question 15.1What renewable energy technique could drive the food prices up?

Question 15.2Why is Nuclear energy an attractive option?

Module 16: Renewable energy trends

In this module Jan Willem tells you about renewable energy trends, challenges they pose and the solutions that are being discovered. He will inform you about the techniques that are economically as well as effectively the most promising.

  •    Duration:   12:20 Min
  •    Themes:   Renewable energy, economic effects, technological improvements
  •    Further thinking:  
    What does the Stanford’s WSS roadmap tell you in terms of hopes and dreams?
    What would seduce you to switch to ‘green’ power?

QUIZ: Module 16: Renewable energy trends

Question 16.1What renewable energy technique is already the only technique that is more expensive than fossil fuel use?

Question 16.2On Standford’s WSS roadmap to 2050; what renewable energy will not need to be/can not be upscaled?

About the teacher


Jan Willem Timmer is an expert on climate change and renewable energy. He has multiple years of national and international experience as a consultant in the field. Recently, he co-authored a book with Professor Dr. W.A. Vermeend on the Paris climate agreement, evaluating the contents of the treaty, the pros and cons of various mitigation and adaptation measures as well as their socio-economic impact. He holds and LL.M in law and economics from Harvard University and an M.Sc. in finance from the University of Oxford, where he graduated with distinction. He has taught economics, public policy and climate change at various colleges and universities, including as a teaching assistant at Harvard and Maastricht University.

Jan Willem Timmer

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