Module 12: Climate Change Policy


Polices intended to mitigate and adapt to climate change are developed and adopted at all levels: international, national, regional, state, and local.  Because climate and energy impact nearly every aspect of economic and political life, policy responses are complex and sometimes contradictory. We will briefly explore the history of international negotiations through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and also learn about climate policies in Colorado and Fort Collins.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this module you should be able to: 

  1. Distinguish between policies aimed at climate change “mitigation” and “adaptation”.
  2. Summarize the history of international climate negotiations and roles of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol.
  3. Explain the main goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and the meaning of Nationally-Determined Contributions.
  4. Describe emissions reduction goals for Colorado and for the City of Fort Collins.

Readings on Climate Policy

Slide Deck / Lecture

Review Questions

  1. In climate policy, explain the difference between mitigation and adaptation. Give a few examples of each. 
  2. Compare and contrast advantages and disadvantages of climate mitigation via carbon pricing schemes such as tax-and-rebate or cap-and-trade relative to mandates and regulations. 
  3. Describe the “free rider problem” associated with climate mitigation policies. How can this problem be overcome?
  4. Describe the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. What are the Parties to the convention?  What are its key commitments?  
  5. Compare and contrast the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Climate Agreement.
  6. Give three examples of regional cap-and-trade programs that currently price CO2 emissions. 
  7. Discuss some of the challenges of climate change adaptation in Colorado and describe some policies that might be enacted to address them.
  8. Compare and contrast climate adaptation policy priorities in California, Florida, and Alaska, and India.
  9. Compare and contrast current climate policies enacted by
    • The United States
    • The State of California
    • The State of Colorado
    • The City of Fort Collins
  10. What are some best practices for community-based climate adaptation policy, according to the GEOS Institute’s “Climate Ready Communities” program?
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