ECON 7221 - The Economics of Climate Change

North Terrace Campus - Winter - 2018

The course provides an understanding of climate change issues, especially the economics of climate change. It provides the tools to assess the relative merits of various climate change policies that are increasingly being put forward by governments and other stakeholders. On completion of this course students should be able to describe and articulate some of the key issues relating to climate change and demonstrate a knowledge of what economics can offer to policies aimed at mitigating its effects. Students should understand the role of economic instruments in designing appropriate climate change policies, the role of the Kyoto Protocol and subsequent meetings, and the issues of climate change from developing country perspectives.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ECON 7221
    Course The Economics of Climate Change
    Coordinating Unit Economics
    Term Winter
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive (over 3 weeks in Summer School, and over 3 weeks in Winter School)
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assumed Knowledge Introductory Microeconomics & Macroeconomics
    Assessment Typically, class participation & presentation; problem-based assignment; 3-hour exam
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr John Hatch

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Articulate key issues relating to climate change;

    2. Explain how economics can offer public policies aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change;

    3. Apply economic instruments in designing appropriate climate change policies;

    4. Articulate the role of the Kyoto Protocol and other subsequent Accords;

    5. Explain the role of energy prices in mitigating the effects of climate change;

    6. Undertake independent research in the area of the economics of climate change mitigation.

    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The following books are required:
    Anthony Owen and Nick Hanley, The Economics of Climate Change, Routledge, London, 2006 (Paperback - ISBN: 978-0-415-40642-0)

    Tol Richard, Climate Economics. Cheltenham and Northampton, 2014 (paperback-ISBN 978 1 78254 592 7).

    Major Reference:
    Lawn Philip, Resolving the Climate Change Crisis, Dordrecht, 2016, (Hard Cover) but online at ISBN 978 94 017 7502 1
    Recommended Resources
    The articles and sites provided below are a good starting point for materials relevant to topics covered in this course.

    Baker, R., Barker, A., Johnston, A. and Kohlhaas, M. 2008, The Stern Review: an assessment of its methodology, Productivity Commission Staff Working Paper, Melbourne, January.

    Australian Greenhouse Office, 2005. Australia’s Fourth National Communication on Climate Change,

    Barrett . S (1998) On the Theory and Diplomacy of Environmental Treaty Making, Environmental and Resource Economics 11: 317-333.

    Baumol, WJ and Oates, WE (1988) The Theory of Environmental Policy, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press.

    Fisher BS et al (1996) ‘An Economic Assessment of Policy Instruments for Combating Climate Change’, in Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change, Cambridge University Press.

    Garnaut Climate Change Review, Final Report available at

    Lawson, N(2008) An Appeal to Reason, Duckworth Overlook. 

    Lutter, R and Shogren, J (2002) ‘Tradable permit traffics: how local air pollution affects carbon emissions permit trading, Land Economics 78: 159-70.' 

    Productivity Commission (2008), What Role for Policies to Supplement an Emissions Trading Scheme?: Productivity Commission Submission to the Garnaut Climate Change Review, May.

    Productivity Commission (2011), Emission Reduction Policies and Carbon Prices in Key Economies, Commissioned Study, May.

    The Climate Commission (2011), The Critical Decade, Report Prepared by the Climate Commission tasked by the Australian Government to report on policies to mitigate climate change.

    The Garnaut Climate Change Review: Garnaut Review 2011 -

    United Nations, 1992. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

    United Nations, 1997. Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

    World Bank, World Development Report (2010), Development and Climate Change – from the World Bank’s official site –

    Other material will be handed out at various times.

    Online Learning

    www. Official site of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, 5 to 18 December 2009 - The World Bank. - UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. – The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. – World Resources Institute. – The Australian Department of Environment. – South Australian Department of Water and Natural Resources. – Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. – Professor Barry Brook’s website.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The Teaching and Learning modes are closely aligned with the Course Learning Outcomes.  While the primary teaching modes are through lectures and workshops, learning is expected to take place through writing a comprehensive report that ideally is an equivalent quality to a policy paper or a consultant’s report prepared for clients; through preparing and participating in an oral presentation; through class discussion and through writing under pressure (final exam). All of these modes will not only lead students to achieve their learning outcomes but they will prepare them for the rigours of the workplace.

    This course aims to enhance students’ independent learning, research skills and self-directed study. In particular, the course will enhance students’ ability to distil and synthetise information, write succinctly and verbally present theoretical and factual material. The course is thus structured around three elements of assessment – an individual or group oral presentation (20%), a 2,500 word paper on a relevant topic that can be done either individually or as part of a group (30%) and a 3-hour closed book examination (50%). Under no circumstances can groups for either the oral presentation or the written assignment exceed  three people. Please also note you can work in groups for only one of the modes of assessment – the oral presentation or the written assignment. That is to say, if you work in a group in one mode, the other assessment mode must be done individually. The School of Economics has a policy that does not allow students’ group assessments to be weighted at MORE THAN 30%.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The course requires independent and group learning if it is to be completed successfully. It is anticipated that students will engage in study outside of class time (either individually or in groups) for at least 15 hours a week for the duration of the course, since it is delivered in intensive mode.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Lecture Schedule


    Lecture 1

    Mon 3 July


    Introduction of course and students’ introductions. Climate Change Policies : What insights can economics offer? The Scientific Basis of the Problem.  Owen and Hanley, Chapters 2 and 4.

    Theme: The big picture introduction of CC issues and the importance and relevance of Economics. 
    Lecture 2

    Wed 5 July


    Theme: Designing effective policy instruments; the international architecture and political economy issues.
    Climate protection: O&H, Chapter 4 continued – a rational framework for assessing climate protection – market failure; measuring and assessing costs and benefits and identifying mitigation and adaptation strategies.

    Lecture 3

    Thu 6 July


    The Economics of the Kyoto Protocol and subsequent meetings – O&H Chapters 3 and 5 – comment on the Kyoto emissions allocations made to various countries. Comment on the supply of and demand for emissions ‘certificates’.

    The Copenhagen and Paris Summits – review various materials from the UNFCCC site with a focus on the actual Copenhagen Accord and Paris Summit and their implication for developed and developing countries.

    Theme: Global conferences and their impacts on CC.  Impacts on Agriculture, Health, Development and Nature.

    Lecture 4

    Mon 10 July

    1-3pm Theme: Economic Tools
    The Role of Economic Instruments – O&H Chapter 6 – Carbon Taxes and Emissions Trading.
    Lecture 5

    Wed 12 July

    9am-1pm Theme: Cost-Benefit Anakysis and Economic Modelling applied to Climate Change

    Economic Modelling of Global Climate Change – O&H Chapters 7 and 8.

    Risk and Uncertainty and the treatment of Future Benefits and Costs by Discounting. pp 121-123 of O&H Chapter 6 and the short Chapter 7 of Lawson which will be distributed.  
    Lecture 6

    Thu 13 July


    Theme: Energy and Climate Change
    The Role of Energy Prices in Global Climate Change- O&H Chapter 9. Comment on the effect of fossil fuel and electricity subsidies on climate change.

    Renewable Energy – O&H Chapter 12.  Will clean technologies and renewable energy have an impact on reducing GHG emissions? And by how much?

    Lecture 7

    Mon 17 July


    Theme: Developing Countries and Climate Change and Other Equity Issues. 

    Developing countries and Climate Change – O&H Chapters 10 and 11. Should developing countries bear a disproportionate burden of climate change mitigation policies? And how effective is the clean development mechanism (CDM) in addressing imbalances between the developed and developing countries?

    What can Economics contribute to equity issues?

    Wed 19 July

    9am-1pm Student Presentations (Assessable)

    Thu 20 July

    9am-1pm Student Presentations (Assessable)



    Themes and Topics

    Tue 4 July


    Formation of groups and Developing Plans for the Presentation Topics.

    Tue 11 July


    Tue 18 July


    Specific Course Requirements
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Particular skills to be developed through undertaking this course include:
    • learning independently and in groups;
    • self-directed research (through the written project and individual/group presentations);
    • working collaboratively in small groups;
    • using the World Wide Web and government agencies to seek relevant information;
    • problem solving; and
    • knowledge building in the field of climate change economics.
    Assessment Task Due Date/ Week Weighting Length Learning Outcome
    Oral Presentation Week TBA 20% 15-20 minute presentation (individual or group) TBA
    Problem-Based Assignment
    (individual or group)
    Week TBA 30% 2,500 words (individual or group) TBA
    Final Exam Weeks TBA 50% 3 hours TBA
    Total 100%
    Assessment Related Requirements

    Assessment Detail
    Oral Presentation (20%)
    An important part of the assessment will include the individual or group (two or three  people)
    presentation by students on the topic of their choice; this presentation will account for 20% of the total grade. Students can choose their own topics that are based on the lectures, though these are subject to approval by the lecturer. Otherwise the presentation topics are identical to the  four topics that are set for the problem based written assignment, representing a good opportunity for students to orally discuss the issues and then write them up for the 30% written assignment. Students can do the same topic for both the presentation and written assignment or they can do a separate topic for each.
    Again, if you are working in a group for the presentation, be aware that you cannot also work in a group for the written assignment. Students MUST nominate their topics for both the presentation and the written assignment shortly after commencement of the course.

    Problem Based Written Assignment (30%)
    Four questions are set, of which you are to choose one, which will be based on your individual and/or group research. Note, if you choose to work in group for the oral presentation, you cannot work in a group for the written assignment and that groups cannot exceed three people.

    The written assignment requires you to:
    Submit a paper (in the form of a report) of 2,500 words (maximum).

    As this is to be in the form of a formal report submitted to decision makers, please follow the format of a formal submission; that is, you are required to follow a logical structure that includes an introduction, a review of the literature, the main issues, discussion (including any analysis), key findings and recommendations. You are also to include a one or two paragraph ‘Executive Summary’ highlighting your key points, findings and recommendations. Note: neither the Executive Summary nor the Reference List will be included in the word count.

    You MUST follow the above format; students that do not will be marked down.

    Assessment criteria for the paper will include how professionally written the report is (that is, it should be - free from error, logical, provide evidence of wide reading/research, accurate, provide evidence of good summation skills and demonstrate good quality English writing). Additional criteria will include how well the paper is researched; how well integrated are the appropriate economic concepts and models; how clearly and concisely the relevant issues and problems are discussed and the quality of your findings and recommendations.

    Final Examination (50%)
    The final examination will comprise 5-6 essay-type questions based entirely on the topics covered in lectures, of which you are to answer 4 questions. One question will be compulsory. Each question carries an equal weight of 25%.

    You will be advised when and where the final examination will be held.
    Please note the date for submission of your written assignment to be advised.
    Penalties for late submission will apply, with 5% deducted for each day overdue.  
    Submissions are to be placed in the assignment drop box on the ground floor, University of Adelaide, 10 Pulteney St, (Nexus 10 building), or alternatively email your written assignment to the lecturer.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Additional Assessment
    If a student receives 45-49 for their final mark for the course they will automatically be granted an additional assessment. This will most likely be in the form of a new exam (Additional Assessment) and will have the same weight as the original exam unless an alternative requirement (for example a hurdle requirement) is stated in this semester’s Course Outline. If, after replacing the original exam mark with the new exam mark, it is calculated that the student has passed the course, they will receive 50 Pass as their final result for the course (no higher) but if the calculation totals less than 50, their grade will be Fail and the higher of the original mark or the mark following the Additional Assessment will be recorded as the final result.
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    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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  • Policies & Guidelines
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