ENV 568a () / 2023-2024

Overshoot: The Environmental and Policy Implications of Exceeding 1.5°C (Fall -1 August 30-October 11)

Credits: 1.5
Fall 2023: W, 4:00-6:50, Kroon G01


This course is capped at 30 students. Interested students should register no later than August 27. If more than 30 students register, priority (in order) will be given to YSE students in their second year or beyond, YSE students in their first year, students from other Yale graduate schools, and finally Yale College students. Final enrollment decisions will be shared by end-of-day on August 28.

Despite dire warnings from the IPCC and earnest pledges of various governments and other institutions including Yale, humanity is likely to surpass 1.5°C at the end of this decade, placing us in the dangerous realm of temperature “overshoot”.  The course will start by examining our likely climate trajectory before critically examining the level of optimism that surrounds many proposed mitigation quick fixes.  We will then delve into the toolkit of climate responses that would become relevant in an overshoot scenario – not merely further mitigation and adaptation, but also negative emissions technologies and strategies to reflect incoming sunlight.  We will examine not only the technological, economic, and political feasibility of these potential interventions, but also their governance requirements and ethical implications.  As I have found little literature illustrating what life in an overshoot world might entail, we will create some.  Our final project will be to host a “cli-fi” short-story contest wherein students will be asked to envision what they might see with their own eyes should the Earth transit 2C in mid-century.

The entire course will be framed via the lens of the Global Commission on Governing Risks from Climate Overshoot, an independent group of eminent global leaders assembled in 2022 to recommend strategies to reduce risks should global warming goals be exceeded.  The Commission will deliver its report to the UN General Assembly in September 2023.  We will examine the report in detail and will be visited in class by both the US delegate to the Commission (a YSE alumna) and the head of the Commission’s Secretariat.  An optional field trip to Manhattan to witness the report’s initial press roll-out has been arranged for Thursday September 14 (train fare is free to students).    Prerequisite: This is intended as a second level course for students who have already taken an introductory course on climate studies including (but not limited to): EVST 100, ENV 614, ENV 630, ENV 636, ENV 716, ENV 800, ENV 814, ENV 840, and ENV 878..
Limited to 30 students