This overview presents the main topics this course will cover, and provides a summary of the key impacts and challenges of a 4°C warmer world.
Week 1: Observed Climate Changes and Impacts: Hundreds of Thousands of Years to Now
This module outlines the historical observed changes in the climate system leading up to the present day and the impacts that can now be attributed to human-induced climate change. It examines the rise of greenhouse gas emissions since preindustrial times, while explaining the link between CO2 concentrations and the rising global mean temperature, ocean heat storage and sea-level rise, as well as uncertainties in the scientific evidence. It also describes the trends of increasing loss of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, increasing loss of Arctic sea ice, melting mountain glaciers, increased heat waves and extreme temperatures, and drought and aridity trends.
Week 2: Possible 21st Century Climates
This module provides an overview of the projected changes in climate leading up to the end of the 21st century. It describes the likelihood of a 4°C warmer world by 2100 AD and enables a deeper understanding of various climate models with different projections and key areas of uncertainty. It also reviews possible responses from natural systems, explaining how the projected climatic changes from 2°C to 4°C warming could result in sea-level rise, heat waves and extreme temperatures, and ocean acidification.
Week 3: Life in a 4°C Warmer World
a) Impacts Across Key Human Support Systems
This module presents an overview of current and projected climate impacts across key human support systems, such as agriculture and food production, water resources, ecosystems and biodiversity, and human health. Each of these human support systems will be negatively impacted by climate change under a 4°C warming scenario, resulting in adverse consequences for development, such as: diminishing crop yields, which threaten food production and human health; loss of biodiversity; the spread of vector-borne diseases; and water scarcity.
b) Risks of Large-Scale and Disruptive Changes in the Climate System
This module brings together information from earlier modules, by considering how the impacts of, risks from and vulnerabilities to climate change may scale with increasing levels of CO2 concentrations and global mean warming. It highlights the risks of nonlinear and cascading impacts and the risk of crossing critical thresholds for nonlinear tipping elements of the Earth system, which could dramatically increase vulnerability to climate change and impose multiple stresses on development.
Week 4: What Can We Do About It? The Choice Is in Your Hands (Discussion)
After having outlined the scientific evidence in previous modules, this final module goes beyond the Turn Down the Heat report and provides a discussion on what mitigation and adaptation action is needed to help avoid a 4°C world, while also decreasing vulnerability to climate change impacts and building climate resilience. Since no single solution exists, this module will share perspectives from a range of actors on a range of key policy measures and climate actions. Track 1 (for the general public) will showcase how different lifestyles may affect changes in the climate and explore everyday choices that can help mitigate climate change and decrease vulnerability to its impacts. Track 2 (for policymakers) invites leaders from various countries, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and civil society to exchange ideas and examples of effective policies and actions that can help in the transition towards a low-emissions and climate-resilient development path.
Depending on your particular interest, you can choose to participate in one of two tracks as an optional activity.
- Track 1: Climate Champions
- Track 2: Policy and Leadership