70049 - Global Environmental Challenges

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Marco Casari
  • Credits: 8
  • SSD: SECS-P/02
  • Language: English
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Relations (cod. 9084)

Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is an understanding of the major sustainability issues the world is currently facing: overharvesting of renewable resources, biodiversity loss, and, above all, global climate change. By the end of the course, students are expected to comprehend these issues with respect to their scientific basis, economic incentives, and management policies.

Course contents

The course objective is to provide the tools for the understanding of the economics of climate change at the national and global level. It studies the interconnections of ecological issues with economic and political processes.

*Note for exchange students*
you need to have already passed an introductory economics class and an introductory statistics class in order to be familiar with the concepts used in Global Environmental Challenges.

Lectures will be organized around the following topics:

• The Anthropocene
• The science of climate change
• Social and economic impacts of climate change
• Mitigation as a social dilemma
• Adaptation
• Climate Geoengineering
• Economic models of climate change
• Mitigation as risk management
• Inequality in climate responsibilities and impacts
• Mitigation between the present and the future
• Mitigation as an international issue
• Ecological transition using carbon prices
• Ecological transition as a system transition
• The political economy of climate policies


Lectures and readings will be in English. The textbook is William Nordhaus (2013) The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World, Yale University Press

Other readings will be made available on Virtuale: some are required while others only recommended. The site will be updated continuously and it is recommended to check weekly.

Teaching methods

Lectures with slides presentation




Assessment methods

This is an intermediate-level economics class. There is no formal pre-requisite, however if you have not taken at least one introductory economics course and one statistical course, then you may struggle as you will lack the basic concepts and terminology for this class, such as expected value or interest rate.

The class will require a considerable effort, especially if you aim at a good grade. The assessment will be about your level of understanding and your ability to work with the concepts. Memory is a pre-requisite to a successful exam, but the ability to repeat concepts will not suffice.

The overall grade will be the weighted average of the homework and the final exam grades. Homework will be short essays on specific topics where you explain in a simple way a technical concept to a policy maker. They count for 20% of the grade.

The final exam will count for 80% of your grade. The final exam is written and will comprise about 7 questions concerning the definition of concepts, presentation of theories, the reporting of empirical evidence, your interpretation of current issues, the solution of numerical exercises. You are expected to know the material both in the required readings and in the slides.

Teaching tools

Slide presentations
Frontal lectures

Office hours

See the website of Marco Casari


Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.