Putting the brakes on climate change - new free online course shows how

A new online, animated course released today by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) outlines an arsenal of practical methods and policy options for successfully combating human-induced climate change.

The three-part interactive lesson on Mitigation Needs and Action and Government Tools and Initiatives Part I & II informs users about existing technologies and approaches for reducing heat-trapping greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere. The course is the latest free product in the “Climate Insights 101” education series created by PICS, a consortium of British Columbia’s (BC’s) four leading research universities.

PICS executive director Tom Pedersen says human society is on track for perhaps four or more degrees of warming by the end of this century due to rising GHG emissions, well beyond the threshold seen as dangerous. However, he says, if urgent action is taken there is still time to prevent this happening—and the new online course explains how.

Mitigation Needs and Action explores the key strategies for reducing GHG emissions:

  • energy efficiency – optimising the use of energy per unit of GDP, by switching to less carbon-intensive sources of energy, including renewables such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass
  • energy conservation – changing behaviour so we use less energy, e.g. within buildings and in transit
  • carbon sinks – storage of carbon emissions through low-tech options such as reforestation or through new technology that captures carbon dioxide from smokestacks and stores it underground.

The Government Tools and Initiatives Part I critiques the policies and tools used by governments around the world and within BC to account for and manage GHG emissions. Topics include carbon pricing through carbon tax and cap-and-trade schemes; environmental regulations such as vehicle tailpipe and low carbon fuel standards; renewable portfolio standards for utility companies whereby a set proportion of energy must come from renewable sources; and incentives for clean energy investment.

Part 2 examines the mixed results of regional and international cooperative efforts toward achieving global GHG emissions reductions. Approaches under the microscope include emissions trading schemes, regional emissions caps, and the United Nation’s historic climate agreements from Kyoto, Copenhagen, Durban and Doha. The course also profiles countries with leading-edge policies that are successfully fighting the causes of climate change. All parts of the course contain “test-your-knowledge” sections.

Pedersen says there is no single solution to global warming, but this course shows there is an array of actions that, if taken, will transition society from fossil-fuel dependency to a low-carbon renewable energy future.

Editors: See endorsements of the new mitigation course from industry, government, and climate change leaders on the following page. View at course at http://www.pics.uvic.ca or under the PICS education page.

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Keywords: climate change, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, environment, clean energy, education

People: Tom Pedersen

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