Greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use are the leading cause of global climate change, and they are growing. The challenge of sharply reducing emissions while continuing to provide energy to a growing population is an enormous global challenge, one that policymakers have not yet solved.
This course will provide an introduction to the global energy system and its role in climate change, with a focus on the United States. It will begin with a review major energy technologies, the markets in which they operate, and how both have changed over time. It will then turn to the fundamentals of climate change, with a basic overview of the science, the economic principles that can guide policymaking to reduce emissions, and key social dynamics that shape policies and markets. We will then turn to the real-world application of public policies at the international and national level, developing an understanding of how these policies are designed along with their effectiveness.
The course will conclude with a series of case studies on potential approaches to addressing the interconnected spheres of energy and climate. Case studies will focus on the sometimes difficult trade-offs that arise in trying to prevent the worst impacts of climate change while provide the energy that underpins the global economy. We will examine the political, economic, technological, and psychological aspects of pursuing alternative approaches to achieve these interconnected goals.