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Governance of Climate Change and Energy Transition



Climate change is both a natural and a political issue. In this course, students learn to
addresses questions from both perspectives: What is climate change exactly, and how does
it work? What are the stakes, and how is anthropogenic climate change governed? Since
anthropogenic climate change is deeply entangled with major Greenhouse Gasses (GHG)
and how energy is produced, consumed and governed, the course pays special attention to
the energy transition. The course discusses main contributors of anthropogenic climate
change, which include both natural and social processes (GHG, industrial sectors,
regulations, social norms). It also addresses dominant and alternative energy technologies
and their consequences for climate change, related stakes, and different governance tools.
Since climate change transcends clearly defined nation-state boundaries, the main
governance approach focusses on the transnational dynamic of addressing climate change.
The course discusses how governments, businesses and/or civil society actors (often in
networks) seek to govern climate change at different levels. The course departs at the local
level, discussing how climate change and the energy transition are linked to everyday
practices and city initiatives (e.g. the decentralized energy production). We then work our 'way ‘up’ to national and international levels of climate governance. We address interactions
between different levels of governance, but also between public and private action.
Furthermore, we discuss the inherent political related to climate governance, taking into
account structures of power and the uneven distribution of environmental ‘goods’ and ‘bads’.

Learning goals

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Can explain how main natural and social mechanisms relate to climate change, i.e. causes and effects;

  • Can compare different energy technologies and their consequences for climate change;

  • Can explain different modes of transnational governance in relation to climate change and the energy transition;

  • Can discuss challenges related to international cooperation and transnational climate governance;

  • Can reflect on the relation between (transnational) governance and technical solutions for climate mitigation/adaptation;

  • Can reflect on the political nature (normative choices and uneven gains) related to climate governance.

Teaching methods / mode of instruction

In this course we offer a mix of instruction methods which are aimed to put theory into
practice. That is, during the double 2 hour lectures per week the theoretical insights and
concepts will be introduced, while during the working groups (2x2 hours per week) the
students will learn to put the theory into practice.

Type of assessment

There will be a mix of assessments: participation, a policy podcast, a paper, a serious game (IGA) and an
individual exam.

Course materials / reading list

Literature for this course will primarily exist of scientific peer-reviewed papers from both
mono-disciplinary and transdisciplinary scientific journals, supplemented with an occasional
book chapter, report and policy document. All required literature in this course manual must
be studied for the written exam.