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Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries

This MOOC course, developed by UCT, gives participants the opportunity and skills to consider how societies can be lifted out of poverty while also mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
University of Cape Town Climate Change Mitigation MOOC
Preview video University of Cape Town Climate Change Mitigation MOOC
  • Learning product: course (MOOC)
  • Level: advanced
  • Time commitment: 18 hours
  • Sector: sustainable development, multi-sector
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Arabic, French, Portuguese (European), Chinese (Simplified), Italian, Vietnamese, Korean, German, Russian, Turkish, English, Spanish
  • Certificate available: from Coursera


This course challenges participants to consider how one might lift societies out of poverty while also mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. We explore the inherent complexity of developing country governments wanting to grow their economies in a climate friendly way. You will be introduced to an approach with which to address this challenge. The approach consists of a facilitated process whereby academic researchers and high-level influential actors within society co-produce knowledge. You will track this process in four Latin American countries – Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and South Africa. You will hear from various professionals about their contexts and the different challenges and opportunities the process includes.

The Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries course is free to enroll and take on Coursera. However as part of development of training material on weADAPT, all videos, readings and quiz questions are available on this page.

Go to the Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries Coursera Course.

Institutional background and trainer

This course is one of several open source MOOCs developed by Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) and the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) atthe University of Cape Town in collaboration with teaching staff at the University.Harald Winkler developed the material for the MOOC. He is aProfessor in the University of Cape Town and “internationally acclaimed researcher”. Harald’s research interests are focused around climate policy, at an international and national level.

Who would find this useful?

This course would be useful for researchers, climate change practitioners, development practitioners and students wanting to expand their understanding of mitigation and transition to low carbon economies in developing countries.

Training material

Coursera material is organised into weeks, but all material is available at all times so the training can be taken at your own pace.

Week 1

Complexity of climate change mitigation Climate change and development both involve many complex problems. Each are ‘wicked’ problems, meaning they defy easy solutions. Tackling both development and climate change together is a ‘super-wicked’ problem. But we must start by taking a first step to responding to this ‘super-wicked’ problem. To do this we’ll share our experiments drawing particularly on the MAPS community, which includes Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and South Africa.

Week 2 Mandating and co-production of knowledge Our approach to mitigation and development is essentially a process that spurs change within a system. The premise is that change happens through co-production of knowledge, which in turn encourages action by actors in a system. We ask the questions: what is the best way to start such an intervention? What could the intervention look like? What are the options for the process design? This week we review the role a Scenario Building Team has to play in supporting knowledge generation.

Week 3 Mitigation action research and modelling Knowledge generated through research can effect change. We describe the models and tools that are available to support the generation of this knowledge. Apart from knowledge related to greenhouse gas mitigation and the costs thereof, we are interested in the positive and negative developmental impacts of moving to a low carbon economy. Emissions and costs are relatively easy to quantify but developmental impacts are less easily quantified. This week, we explore how this challenge can be addressed.

Week 4 Minding the mitigation gap What happens when your best efforts are not good enough? We will look at the ‘gaps’ between where we would like to be and where we are.The direction emission trends are headed is a function of everything put into the model (such as population, growth and GDP, and technology). Yet what is required by science is driven by considerations such as how we need to reduce emissions to keep temperature rises below two degrees. This week, in exploring some of the potential reasons for this gap we consider technical reasons and other pushbacks, like vested-interests, political or inherent human behaviour.

Week 5 Responding to mitigation challenges There are limitations within our existing toolsets and ways of thinking how we might address the mitigation gap. We need to look more closely at the interface of economic and development pathways and to question the way in which climate change mitigation professionals are approaching this huge and complex climate and development problem. Responses to these challenges include linking of economic and mitigation model to better understand the interconnectedness of mitigation policies and economic development, and involves out-of-the-box thinking when imagining climate and development solutions of the future. This week we hope to inspire innovations and responses to challenges in the climate mitigation and development community.

Week 6 Bridges to domestic and international policy This is the final module and it tells the story of how we have moved to the end of the scenario building process, and what the impacts of this approach are. This week we speak of two bridges: the bridge between knowledge and domestic policy, and domestic policy and international contributions.

Go to Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries

to find the structured week by week source material which consists of videos, readings and practical exercises.

Learning outcomes

This course will cover topics such as facilitation process techniques, energy modeling, scenario building, innovation and policy making. You will have the opportunity to respond to these topics with ideas and reflection from your own context. Whether you are a climate change practitioner, work in development or are simply curious about how climate mitigation is understood, this course will give you insights into the complexity of how countries from the South pursue development goals while addressing climate mitigation.

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