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Carbon Literacy’s Top Pick of Online Courses – Part One

April 2018 by Rachel Harding
Carbon Literacy’s Top Pick of Online Courses – Part One
25th April 2018

Want to learn more about the greatest challenge facing humanity today, but don’t know where to start? Massive open online courses (MOOC’s) are becoming ever more common and are provided by the best universities and institutions in the world. Here, we share our favourite tried and tested courses. If you are looking to improve your Carbon Literacy, we can vouch that taking a MOOC can be life changing!

Advocacy Manager, Rachel Harding’s Pick

Climate Change Leadership– Uppsala University – Hosted by FutureLearn

I took this course in November 2016 (still available here), a year on from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, where (almost) all countries agreed to limit the increase in earth’s average temperature to 2°C (above pre-industrial temperatures). This five-week course covers how to show leadership on climate change in your organisation, local area, and country. The course discusses how nations will attain the Paris Agreement targets and debates mitigation vs adaption, (e.g. reducing CO2 emissions now or adapting to rising sea level and increasing extreme weather events), plus the logistical and legislative barriers to avoiding catastrophic climate change. Climate justice, who is responsible for and who will be most affected by climate change, is also a key part of the course. Sounds heavy right! Well, the course is delivered as a mixture of videos, articles, activities, and discussions with fellow participants, and this helps get the message across in an engaging and approachable way.

Learning Outcomes

The course gave me an insight into the Paris Agreement beyond what the national papers were printing. Yes, of course, it was a great thing (just look at how chuffed the negotiators are in the picture!). However, the commitments of each country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions do not add up to keeping climate warming below the 2°C target, nor does the agreement include aviation or shipping! The 2°C carbon reduction scenario also requires Negative Emissions Technology (NETs) to remove carbon dioxide out of the air, which as yet do not work at the scale required. If we carry on with ‘business as usual’, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, we are heading for 4°C rise in global average temperatures in the second half of this century, which is not thought to be compatible with global organised living. That means that our society, our civilisation, really is under threat in the not too distant future. Still with me? Don’t worry here comes the positive bit.

The course is not about climate change being an insurmountable challenge, and I came out of the course with a renewed sense that I could influence those around me and make changes in my own life. The final week is all about creating a leadership action plan with plenty of help on how to lead, and how to influence those around us.

[W]e can all hold our leaders, that’s our government leaders, organisational leaders […] to account: this is what we have internationally signed up for. Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change

Civic courage is the willingness to take risks for persons outside one’s own family and circle of friends or to defend a common value such as planetary survival. Brian Palmer, Social Anthropologist

A great aspect of the course was the interaction with the other participants from all over the world and from so many different backgrounds. There is plenty of space to discuss topics with others, share links and ideas and have the odd debate too! Personally, this course had a huge impact as it led me to reduce my carbon emissions and get involved in the Manchester climate change community.

Many of the principles covered in this course align with the values of the Carbon Literacy Standard, especially those around climate justice. We also have our own Carbon Literacy e-learning, called Carbon Literacy Knowledge, which covers the ‘Knowledge’ part of becoming Carbon Literate. The package covers greenhouse gases and their relationship to weather and climate; how changes in the climate are likely to affect us in the UK and in other parts of the world; what we can do to reduce our impact, and the benefits and disadvantages of taking action.

Have you done a climate change related MOOC? Let us know your favourites @carbon_literacy

Rachel Harding

Since May 2017, Rachel has been working as Advocacy Manager and is focusing on our Salford Consortium, our customer relations management system, and research development. Rachel is passionate about science communication and spreading the word on how individuals can help mitigate climate change. Rachel has a PhD, in the how the waxing and waning ice sheets of the earliest Quaternary (2.58–1.78 Ma) fundamentally changed the landscape of the southern North Sea and surrounding coastlines, from the University of Manchester.

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