• Course Code:  LES

  • Term:  November 2017

  • Start Date:  Nov 20 2017

  • End Date:  Mar 5 2018

  • Duration:  15 weeks

  • Course Author(s)
    Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the World Business Council For Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

This course has ended

Mooc 13 climate action card

Climate Action: Solutions for a Changing Planet

November 2017

  • Sdg academy website announcment
    The SDG Academy Team


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Climate change has loomed large for decades, its damaging effects increasingly acknowledged by scientists, politicians and businesses alike. With the negotiation and ratification of the sweeping Paris Agreement in 2016, that acknowledgment has turned into commitment to prevent further global warming.


But how do we turn commitment into action?


Learn about emerging solutions and debate best approaches to climate action in this free massive open online course.


Among the topics covered in Climate Action: Solutions for a Changing Planet:

  • The science behind reducing global greenhouse gas emissions

  • What businesses and government can do to decarbonize the economy

  • The role of agriculture in reducing emissions

  • How satellites are being used to identify high-emissions areas

  • Case studies of emissions reduction from Russia and Australia

  • The actions communities and individuals can take to make climate action a reality 

This course is for:

Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students interested in the key concepts and practices of this growing field.

Climate change activists who want a concise overview of the current science and emerging solutions.

Sustainable development practitioners – as well as private-sector actors, such as corporate sustainability and responsibility groups and those who work in renewable energy – who need to understand how climate change solutions are being implemented and made successful.



Course Structure, Logistics & Requirements

The course launches November 20th, 2017. Students can enroll anytime after that date and until March 5th, 2018. After March 5th, 2018, the course content will no longer be available.



  • Pre-recorded lectures

  • Readings

  • Quizzes

  • Discussion forums

  • Live webinars, allowing students to ask questions and engage directly with instructors and leading practitioners in the field (exact dates of webinars to be announced early in the course)


Each module (the materials for each week) is made available each Monday, and once the module has been opened it remains open for the duration of the course. These course components can be completed at a time that is convenient for the students; quizzes can be completed anytime before the course ends.


Estimated time commitment: 4-6 hours per module (NOTE: This depends heavily on the student and their objectives in taking the course.)

Cost: Free

Requirements: An internet connection to access course materials


Certificates: Students who successfully complete the course will receive a digital certificate, signed by the course organizers. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the quizzes and final exam, to receive a Certificate of Proficiency. Students who score 85% or higher will receive Certificates of Proficiency with Distinction. (NOTE: While this course is not credit granting, we encourage students to work with their own institutions to explore the option of granting credit for online coursework.)


Questions about the course structure or requirements? Email the course team at climateaction@sdgacademy.org or the SDG Academy team at sdgacademy@unsdsn.org. For technical questions about the platform, please email support@edcast.com.


Lead Faculty:

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University

Dr. Jim Williams, Associate Professor in the Energy System Management graduate program at the University of San Francisco



Module 1A: Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement (Part 1)

1.1 The Goal: < 2°C (Part 1)

1.2 The Goal: < 2°C (Part 2)

1.3 The Carbon Budget (Part 1)

1.4 The Carbon Budget (Part 2)


Module 1B: Implementing the Paris Climate Agreement (Part 2)

1.5 Deep Decarbonization: Reaching Net-Zero by the Second Half of the Century (Part 1)

1.6 Deep Decarbonization: Reaching Net-Zero by the Second Half of the Century (Part 2)

1.7 Sources and Sinks: Energy, Land Use, CCS (Part 1)

1.8 Sources and Sinks: Energy, Land Use, CCS (Part 2)

1.9 Uncertainties, Precaution, and Insurance (Part 1)

1.10 Uncertainties, Precaution, and Insurance (Part 2)


Module 2A: Deep Decarbonization: The Three Pillars and National Case Studies (Part 1)

2.1 .Deep Decarbonization Pathway Planning and Mid-Century Strategies

2.2 The Three Pillars of Decarbonization

2.3 Case Study: US Deep Decarbonization (Part 1)

2.4 Case Study: US Deep Decarbonization (Part 2)


Module 2B: Deep Decarbonization: The Three Pillars and National Case Studies (Part 2)

2.5 Case Study: Russia Deep Decarbonization

2.6 Case Study: Canada Deep Decarbonization

2.7 Case Study: Australia Deep Decarbonization

2.8 Challenges in the Decarbonization Transition




Module 3: Low Emissions Electricity & Renewables

3.1 The Role of Innovation to Reduce Emissions

3.2 Innovative Off-Grid Energy Solutions

3.3 Renewables: Solar

3.4 Renewables: Wind

3.5 Nuclear Power

3.6 Transmission, Energy Storage and Grid Integration

3.7 Life Cycle Analysis


Module 4: Agriculture and Emissions

4.1 Earth Observations for Climate Mitigation

4.2 The Need to Reduce Uncertainties in Global Land-Use Information

4.3 Global Crop Models and Their Potential to Assess Mitigation Options in Agriculture


Module 5A: Monitoring Land Use (Part 1)

5.1 Mitigation on Land and the SDGs (Part 1)

5.2 Mitigation on Land and the SDGs (Part 2)

5.3 GHG Mitigation in Agriculture (Part 1)

5.4 GHG Mitigation in Agriculture (Part 2)


Module 5B: Monitoring Land Use (Part 2)

5.5 Using System Analysis for Globally Consistent National Mitigation Planning (Part 1)

5.6 Using System Analysis for Globally Consistent National Mitigation Planning (Part 2)

5.7 Case Study: Brazil’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

5.8 Supply Chain Solutions to Deforestation: Evidence from Brazil




Module 6: Policy Tools for the Transition to Low-Emissions

6.1 Principles of Public Policy

6.2 Putting a Price on Carbon (Part 1)

6.3 Putting a Price on Carbon (Part 2)

6.4 Intellectual Property, Access, and Innovation

6.5 Climate Fairness & Justice (Part 1)

6.6 Climate Fairness & Justice (Part 2)


Module 7: Low-Emission Solutions and the Business Community

7.1 Business Solutions for Climate Change

7.2 Technology Partnerships to Tackle Climate Change

7.3 Business Action in Practice: Renewables

7.4 Sustainable Transport Systems

7.5 The Role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP)

Course Conclusion: Public Actions Necessary to Reach 1.5°C

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