0.1.2 Course Syllabus of Designing a Climate-Neutral World: An Introduction

Course subject(s) 0. Welcome to the course Designing a Climate-Neutral World: An Introduction

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The course syllabus presents all the important elements of a course before its start. It’s a fundamental document providing a course overview. Read it carefully and use it as a guide for this course.


1. Course overview

Mitigation of climate change is one of the most important challenges of our times. To prevent irreversible damage to human societies and the environment, it was agreed that world countries should limit the global average temperature rise. To avoid the dangerous impacts of climate change, it is needed to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 °C or even to 1.5 °C above  pre-industrial levels.

This requires cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to near-zero levels in the coming decades. Especially for the energy system, a drastic transformation is needed. We know that such a transformation is possible, but it will require virtually every organization, whether it is a steel company or a hospital, a municipality, or a business, to tackle climate change challenges. The question that often arises is – where to start?

This course is designed for the professionals that might be the leaders of this transformation in their organization – policymakers, sustainability consultants or professionals from other fields – who want to familiarize themselves with climate change mitigation strategies so they can apply it to their projects.

In the first part of the course, you will obtain basic knowledge including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the various types of GHG (CO2 and non-CO2), their concentration and about The Paris Agreement. You will also learn about current energy systems, electricity generation and the energy demand of various sectors. Next, we will focus on courses of action and methods that will assist in selecting the best options in any type of project or organization. As alternatives are usually judged on their efficiency and cost, we will present methodologies for measurement of emission reductions and calculation of costs. Here we will introduce you to the concepts of “marginal abatement cost curves” which will help you analyse alternatives by comparing emission reduction potential with the costs involved. Finally, various options such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and electrification will be discussed as the major emission reduction strategies.

The course will be delivered over four modules, each including between four and six subsections where we provide readings and videos. There will also be additional material provided at the end of each week for you to do further research if you so wish.

2. Learning objectives

So, what will you actually learn in this course? At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand what is needed to limit global average temperature rise to below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels
  • Understand current energy systems and energy demand in various sectors
  • Calculate emissions and emission reduction potentials
  • Determine mitigation costs
  • Choose alternatives for maximum mitigation for the lowest cost
  • Understand the critical elements of the energy transition

3. What we expect from you

This is a self-paced course and so you are free to progress through the content at your own speed, however the course was originally developed with the intention of completing each section in one week.

4. Course structure

The course is content is organized into four sections, each designed to be completed in a week. A brief summary of each unit is presented below. Detailed instructions and resources will be provided during the course.

1. Climate change and the energy transition

In the first module of the course, we will be introducing lots of background information on the present state of the world and the current trajectory of global climate. Together we will cover many foundational concepts which are important for further studies in climate mitigation study.

The content is split into five modules:

  1. Global greenhouse gas emissions
  2. Why do we need to mitigate climate change?
  3. The global energy system
  4. Developments in the global energy system
  5. What does the energy transition look like?

2. Accounting energy use and GHG emissions

In module two we will be covering some more technical aspects of climate change mitigation. Over four videos you will gain an understanding of how we can measure energy, and the emissions associated with that energy. The energy accounting concepts presented here are important for further analysis of climate and energy related topics.

The content is split into four modules:

  1. Energy use and energy units
  2. Book-keeping energy
  3. Calculating CO2 emissions
  4. Global warming potentials for non-CO2 greenhouse gases

3. Emissions reduction: potentials and costs

Module three is focused on analysing emission reduction options. The content presented will be more technical than that presented in earlier weeks. We cover some important factors to consider when evaluating mitigation strategies and how to factor in the respective costs and benefits of different strategies. We learn to calculate the specific mitigation cost, how to value CO2 reduction and how to create marginal abatement cost curves.

The content is split into six modules

  1. Potentials and costs
  2. Costs and revenues of emission reduction
  3. Specific mitigation costs
  4. The value of CO2 mitigation
  5. Marginal abatement cost curves
  6. Beyond costs and revenues

4. Towards climate neutral energy systems

In the final module of the course, we will look at the broader developments required for effective climate change mitigation. We will look into specific role of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, as these are major options to achieve a climate neutral energy system. By the end of this module, you should have a good overview on the changes necessary for the energy system transition.

The content is split into five modules:

  1. What is energy efficiency
  2. The role of energy efficiency
  3. Low-carbon power systems
  4. Low-carbon fuel and heat production
  5. Sector coupling and energy system transition

6. Resources, Tools & Browsers

All educational resources will be available in the course. They consist of short videos and readings to support you in the completion of the weekly learning activities.

We support the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Safari.


7. Licence

The course materials of this course are Copyright Delft University of Technology and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

If you choose to reuse or repost DelftX course materials you must give proper attribution. Please utilize the following citation and refer to this MOOC:

“[TITLE OF WORK –with hyperlink to material] by TU Delft / [LECTURER NAME -with hyperlink to lecturers page] is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0. This material was created by or adapted from material posted on [TITLE MOOC- with link to MOOC start page].”

Or if it is a derivative please use following citation:

“This work [Your title] by [Your name] is a derivative of “TITLE OF WORK –with hyperlink to material] by TU Delft / [LECTURER NAME -with hyperlink to lecturers page] and (re)licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0. This material was created by or adapted from material posted on [TITLE MOOC- with link to MOOC page].”

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Creative Commons License
Designing a Climate-Neutral World: An Introduction by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://online-learning.tudelft.nl/courses/designing-a-climate-neutral-world-an-introduction//
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