Fall 2023
September 5 - December 31
Monday, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
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U.S. Climate Change Policy and the Energy Transition


Burning fossil fuels powered 150 years of unprecedented economic growth but left a legacy of ever-increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Those gases are changing our climate and thereby endangering human welfare and the earth’s ecosystems. To avoid the worst of those consequences requires rapidly decarbonizing the US economy, but that task is massive. In the United States, there is increasing public support for strong action on climate change – thanks in large part to the youth climate movement of the last few years – and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provided a big boost to wind and solar generation and to the adoption of electric vehicles. Yet the United States is still not on a path to achieve its 2030 Paris target of an emission reduction of 50%, relative to 2005. Moreover, the war in Ukraine, fluctuating gasoline prices, and resistance to the energy transition in fossil fuel-producing communities create a complicated political landscape. This seminar examines U.S. climate and energy policy from both economic and technological perspectives. The seminar stArts with a review of the U.S. energy sector, climate science, and climate economics and policy tools. The seminar then dives into current policy issues, including power sector decarbonization policies, expediting the transition to electric vehicles, the movement by businesses to set net zero targets, the impact of climate change and the energy transition on marginalized communities, the politics of the energy transition, and the role of personal actions. The target audience is students who are committed to making a difference in how the US and the world tackles the challenge of climate change: through policy, through effecting social and political change around climate change, or through inventing or bringing to market the technological breakthroughs that will facilitate the necessary green energy transition. Course open to First-Year Students Only

First Year Seminar Program
Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Course Level
Interest Area
Law & Policy
Cross Registration
Not Available