Course Readings



Energy and Climate Policy
Evans School of Public Affairs: PB AF 595, Spring 2012


Preliminary Version (March 21): This syllabus is not final.  Lectures, readings, and assignments and their timing are subject to change, particularly for the latter half of the course.


Michael Lazarus

Matt Steuerwalt

Meeting Times and Locations

Thursday, 3:30-6:20 Mary Gates 234


Dropbox for Assignments


Course Description


·        Readings, Participation, and Reading Responses.  Since engaged and lively discussion is a central element of this course, you will need to read and reflect on the readings prior to each session.  You may be called upon to co-lead discussions on occasion.  You will also write responses to readings for 2 class sessions, due prior to the class for which readings have been assigned.  You may choose any class you wish (through class 7), and you should bring the response to the class for which the readings have been assigned.  The first response should be handed in no later than the start of class 4, and the second by the start of class 7.  You are free to focus your responses in a manner you find most relevant to your interests.  Your response should: not exceed 2 pages/500 words (in 12 point font); cover at least 3 readings; identify key themes and differing perspectives among the readings; comment on their relevance to current issues; assess whether the authors are effective in presenting their points of view and adequately support their conclusions; and, identify any author biases and missing perspectives.  Bullet points, comparison tables, and other shorthand devices are encouraged.

·        Required text: There is one course textbook that you will need to purchase (feel free to share with a classmate): Climate Change Science and Policy, 2009, Island Press, Schneider et al. editors. You will need to read from it prior to the 2nd class meeting, so we suggest you purchase it at your earliest convenience.  It is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble for $41.10 new.   Normal shipping should suffice if you order before the first class, otherwise Barnes and Noble offers a 1-3 day shipping options for under $5.

·        Wedges group exercise: A basic understanding of the magnitude of the climate challenge globally and the scale of technology solutions required to meet it is essential.  To ensure you comprehend this, you will work collaboratively in small groups to develop a technology-oriented vision for addressing the global GHG mitigation challenge out to 2050, based on the wedges paradigm pioneered by Pacala and Socolow. This exercise will build on the wedges game as developed at Princeton, and will involve a brief presentation and group writing and analysis assignment. Due at the start of class 4.  Evaluation rubric.

·        Individual problem set: A basic facility with the numbers and metrics involved in energy and climate debates is important for anyone working in this field.  This assignment includes a brief problem set to be submitted individually. The assignment will be due at the start of Class 6. Evaluation rubric.

·        Class project and presentation: You will prepare a paper, written in the form of a position paper or prepared testimony, and a brief presentation to be delivered as part of one of the three planned role-playing exercises: a) a U.S. Senate hearing on whether to move forward on the Keystone pipeline; b) a local decision on whether to site a coal-export terminal; or c) an international climate negotiation. The paper should be written from a specific stakeholder or country perspective. Papers can be prepared individually or collaboratively. Individual papers should be no longer than 2500 words (about 10 pp, double spaced, 12 point font, including charts and tables, but not references). For collaborative papers, the maximum length will depend on group size (4000 words for 2; 5000 for 3). Evaluation rubrics: paper, presentation.

            April 19 (Class 4) - Ideas for specific topics and perspectives will be discussed during class

            April 26 (Class 5) - Brief project proposals (less than 1 page) due, describing the topic to be addressed and perspective to be taken.

            May 3 (Class 6) - Confirmation of topics. Teams will be assembled based on interests and perspectives.

            May 24 (Class 9) and May 31 (Class 10) - Presentations/simulations.

            Proposal: In less than one page, your proposal should indicate: 1) your proposed paper and stakeholder perspective; 2) a second choice in terms of paper and/or perspective (just in case we need to balance the papers/perspectives across the class); and optionally, 3) other students you would like to collaborate with (no guarantees), or if you would prefer to work individually, please indicate this.

            For your first choice of topic, elaborate a bit on your perspective and the specific areas within your chosen issue that you will cover. You may also wish to list some key sources you might to use to develop your paper and perspective. Sources can include literature, presentations (e.g. found on the web), phone interviews, among others. You are required to consider and encouraged to adopt a perspective that is not "your own", as you will likely gain greater insights from viewing a problem using a different lens.


Course evaluation will be based on:

            Class participation 30% (including responses to readings)

            Wedge assignment 20%

            Individual problem set 10%

            Final project (paper and presentation) 40%


Please submit all assignments in 12 point type, using a bibliography and footnotes (rather than endnotes).  Be sure to proofread before submitting. All assignments are due in hardcopy at the start of class.  Late assignments will be penalized in a draconian fashion, yet to be determined.  


Staying current:  News media and websites provide a rich vein of class material.  You should stay abreast of emerging issues by following some of the URLs listed below.  You are expected to sign up on the listserv for the first two (Point Carbon North America) and review these before each class (review the article summaries, read at least two of the articles from each). We will devote time at each class to briefly discuss emerging developments and their implications for longer-term energy and climate policy. 

Media and blogs:

            Point Carbon North America (biweekly) - REQUIRED

            Politico’s Energy and Environment page,

            BBC's portal,

Energy and Environment news service, (scan for headlines; ask for free trial subscription)


            Joe Romm’s blog,

Useful URLs for research:

Government and UN agencies:

            US Energy Information Adminstration ( – good source of energy data

            International Energy Agency, - another good source of energy and GHG data

            Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): - especially the 4th Assessment Report, Working Group III, and the more recent Renewable Energy report

            UNFCCC Secretariat, http://unfccc.intinternational negotiations, CDM and JI

            OECD Environment Directorate, Climate Change,,3355,en_2649_34361_1_1_1_1_1,00.html


            WA Department of Ecology's Climate Change portal,

            City of Seattle's climate protection initiative,

Research organizations, commissions, etc. (excellent sources of policy papers):

            World Resources Institute,

            Center for Climate and Energy Solutions,

            Resources For the Future,

            Stockholm Environment Institute,

            Center for Science and Environment (Indian NGO),

Bipartisan Policy Center’s Energy Project,