Climate Change and International Policies

Academic year
2017/2018 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Climate Change and International Policies
Course code
PHD029 (AF:262559 AR:152862)
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master di Secondo Livello (DM270)
Educational sector code
2nd Semester
Course year
This course examines the issue of climate change, and the challenges faced by the international community in developing and implementing policies to address its potential impacts from the science, economic and social perspectives. Students will learn about the scientific underpinnings of the climate problem, the effects it has on the economy and society, the types of policies that are likely to be effective in addressing it, and how national and sub-national interests affect our ability to put these policies into practice. The course will provide an overview of climate policies in the context of sustainable development, and illustrate how economic tools can be used to evaluate and design climate policies. The first part of the course will focus on evaluation of historical environmental and climate policies. The second part of the course will focus on the evaluation and design of future climate policies.
Expected educational achievements
Students are expected to learn how to think about policy design in the context of climate change, to learn how to evaluate policy efficiency, effectiveness, as well as their broader implication on sustainable development. They will learn how to interpret scenarios in their work, and learn how to communicate their use.
Undergraduate-level notions of calculus, statistics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, integrated assessment models.
LECTURE 1-4 will be given by prof. Francesco Vona.

LECTURE 5: Climate change and sustainable development 21 May (De Cian)
Introduction to climate change in the context of sustainable development. Green growth, growth implications of climate policies and impacts. An ex ante approach to competitiveness and carbon leakage. The Environmental Kuznet Curve.

Lecture 6: Policies for mitigation 22 May (De Cian)
Introduction to the use of IAMs to inform policy making with a focus on mitigation policies. Climate policy in a second-best world. Climate policy in the context of the recent SSP-RCP framework. Limitations to the representation of SSP storylines in models: the case of institutions.

Lecture 7: Policies for adaptation 23 May (De Cian)
Introduction to the use of IAMs to inform policy making with a focus on the interaction between adaptation and mitigation. The missing elements. Adaptation in the SSP storylines. Students’ presentation of implementation of SSPs.

LECTURE 8: Achieving multiple goals - Energy and Development 24 May (De Cian)
Introduction to the use of IAMs to inform policy making with a focus on the interaction between sustainable development, adaptation and mitigation. Students’ presentation on adaptation in the NDCs.
Hallegatte S et al (2012). From growth to green growth. A Framework. World Bank Working paper, WPS5872
Voigt S., De Cian E., Schymura M., Verdolini E. (2013). Energy Intensity Developments in 40 Major Economies: Structural Change or Technology Improvement? Energy Economics, Vol. 41, pp. 47-62. . Superseded FEEM Working Paper n. 038, Milan.
Dinda, S. 2004. Environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis: A survey. Ecological Economics 49: 431–55.

Lecture 6:
De Cian E., Tavoni M. (2012). Can technology externalities justify carbon trade restrictions? Resource and Energy Economics, Vol. 34, pp. 624– 646.
De Cian E., Carrara S., Tavoni M. (2014). Innovation benefits from nuclear phase-out: can they compensate the costs? Climatic Change, Vol. 123 (3-4), pp. 637-650. Superseded FEEM Working Paper No. 096, Milan.
O’Neil B. et al. (2016). The roads ahead: Narratives for shared socioeconomic pathways describing world futures in the 21st century, Global Environmental Change
Bauer et al. (2017). Shared Socio-Economic Pathways of the Energy Sector – Quantifying the Narratives, Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 316–330
Riahi, K et al (2017) The Shared Socioeconomic Pathways and their energy, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions implications: An overview, Global Environmental Change 42 (2017) 153–168
Aldy, Joseph, William Pizer, Massimo Tavoni, Lara Aleluia Reis, Keigo Akimoto, Geoffrey Blanford, Carlo Carraro, et al. 2016. “Economic Tools to Promote Transparency and Comparability in the Paris Agreement.” Nature Climate Change 6 (11) (August 22): 1000–1004. doi:10.1038/nclimate3106.
Iyer, G. C., L. E. Clarke, J. A. Edmonds, B. P. Flannery, N.E. Hultman, H.C. Mcjeon, and D.G. Victor. (2015). Improved representation of investment decisions in assessments of CO2 mitigation. Nature Climate Change, 5(May), 436–440. doi:10.1038/NCLIMATE2553
Peters et al 2017. Key indicators to track current progress and future ambition of the Paris Agreement, Nature Climate Change

Lecture 7:
Tulkens H. and V. van Steenberghe (2009). Mitigation, Adaptation, Suffering”: In search of the right mix in the face of climate change
De Cian, E., A. Hof, G. Marangoni, M. Tavoni, D. van Vuuren (2016). Alleviating inequality in climate policy costs: an integrated perspective on mitigation, damage and adaptation. Environmental Research Letter, 11 (2016) 074015.
Patt et al. 2010. Adaptation in integrated assessment modeling: where do we stand? Climatic Change (2010) 99:383–402
Yohe and Tol (2002). Indicators for social and economic coping capacity. Moving toward a working definition of adaptive capacity. Global Environmental Change

Hallegatte et al. 2014. Climate Change and Poverty: An Analytical Framework. WB Policy Research Working Paper 7126
Rao N. and Pachauri S. (2017). Energy access and living standards: some observations on recent trends. Environ. Res. Lett. 12 (2017) 025011
Nerini et al. (2017). Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals, Nature Energy
GEA, 2012: Global Energy Assessment - Toward a Sustainable Future, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria. Chapter 1: Energy Primer . Chapter 2: Energy, Poverty and Development

During the course students will be asked to participate to in-class activities (exercises and discussions) and to hand in assignments. Together in-class activities and assignments will count to 50% for the final grade. A final take-home essay will contribute to the remainder 50% of the final grade. Activities and assignments will allow students to become familiar with the tools introduced in the course and to develop and communicate their critical viewpoint on important issue in the debate in climate change policy. All students are expected to read all the assigned readings, to participate in class discussions and write critiques when required. Students will be expected to ask and answer questions during discussions and participation will contribute significantly to the final grade.
Each lecture will combine a frontal lecture with in-class activities (described in the weekly calendar of class sessions). Each activity has the objective to familiarize students with tools of analysis and concepts needed to formulate a critical view on climate change, and to analyze policies and impacts. Activities will include hand-on sessions on the software R as well as on databases, group discussions of controversial issues in the climate-economy debate.
In-class activities, assignments, and the title of the final essay will be communicated at the beginning of the course.
  • Course with sustainable contents
  • University credits of sustainability: 5
  • Lecture notes, material for reference or for self-assessment available online or as e-book
  • Use of virtual forum, blog or wiki
  • Use of open-source software