Energy culture as a determinant of a country's position in the climate talks
This activity addresses Energy Principle 5 by illustrating how 'energy' culture may serve as a determinant of a country's position in the climate debate. Students are invited to conduct a brief inquiry about energy consumption in different countries and world regions.
ContextThis is an upper-level undergraduate course in Environmental Policy which surveys different topics, such as energy and natural resource management, toxic substances, public lands and common-pool resource management. The last third of the class focuses on the global commons and climate diplomacy. This activity builds on two interrelated topics: energy use and climate diplomacy.
GoalsThe goal is to compare nation states with high- and low-energy consumption rates within a specific region of the world. Students are encouraged to draw linkages between a country's energy culture and its position in multilateral climate negotiations.
STEP 1: This activity seeks to illustrate how 'energy' culture may serve as a determinant of a country's position in the climate debate. Students are invited to conduct a brief inquiry about energy consumption in different countries and world regions. Two class periods will be used to discuss sources of energy and per capita levels of energy consumption. A background reading (in addition to other course readings) will be: BP Statistical Review of World Energy – provides comparison of oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear energy, hydroelectricity and primary energy use. The report and historical data are available here: http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html
STEP 2: At the end of the second class session, students will be asked to conduct a comparative inquiry about per capita energy use in six regions around the world. Six groups of 4 students will be assigned one of the following regions:
- Group 1: South and Central America
- Group 2: Europe and Eurasia
- Group 3: Middle East
- Group 4: Africa
- Group 5: Asia Pacific
- Group 6: North America and the Caribbean
Each group selects 4 countries within their region: top two and bottom two in terms of per capita energy use. This allows for each group member to take up one country as their primary research focus.
STEP 3: Student groups are tasked with the following two activities:
1) Conduct an inquiry about per capital energy consumption in their region with four illustrative cases (the four countries)
2) Draft a brief paper about current consumption rates in their region, comparing high with low per capita energy use nations. Students can prepare a poster in lieu of the paper.
Sources for student research:
- International Energy Agency, Statistics by Country/Region: http://www.iea.org/stats/index.asp
- BP Statistical Review of World Energy: http://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/energy-economics/statistical-review-2015/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2015-full-report.pdf
- BP Energy Charting Tool - with interactive and custom data available: http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/energy-charting-tool.html
- International Total Primary Energy Consumption and Energy Intensity http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/energyconsumption.html
- CAIT Climate Data Explorer: http://www.wri.org/resources/data-visualizations/cait-climate-data-explorer
- World Resources Institute: CAIT Paris Contributions Map (interactive map): http://www.wri.org/resources/maps/cait-paris-contributions-map
- European Environmental Agency: Total energy consumption per capita and final energy consumption per capita in 2004 and projections of 2030 (data and maps): http://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figures/total-energy-consumption-per-capita-and-final-energy-consumption-per-capita-in-2004-and-projections-of-2030
- Wikipedia List of Countries by energy consumption per capita: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_energy_consumption_per_capita
- World Resources Institute: The Environmental Information Portal (data tables): http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/earthtrends-environmental-information
- World Resources Institute: Climate Data Explorer – Country GHG Emissions Data: http://www.wri.org/resources/data-sets/cait-country-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data
- Google Earth Visualizations – energy consumption rates across the US and around the world (sources provided by Glenn Richard): http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/teaching_methods/google_earth/examples/energy.html
- Historical use of energy in the US: http://www.eia.doe.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/
After students have gathered some data and learned about the energy culture of their countries, each group submits a brief 2-3 page paper or a poster about current energy consumption, major sources of energy and potential for moving away from fossil-based to renewable sources of energy. The goal is to compare high with low energy consumption states within a region and draw implications for the countries' likely position in climate diplomacy. Students are also encouraged to find about their country's position in the most recent climate talks and compare against their own scenarios.
STEP 4: Students present their findings/posters during a special in-class symposium.
Student handout (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 24kB Apr18 11)
AssessmentThis activity will constitute 15 to 20 percent of total course grade.
More on this topic from CLEAN
How to teach energy science from the CLEAN site
See CLEAN reviewed activities for teaching about energy decision-making