The UK in partnership with Italy are currently at the centre of international debates and actions on Climate change, as COP 26 in November 2021 is scheduled to take place in Glasgow. While Covid-19 places some uncertainty as to whether an online rather than physical meeting takes place, the realities of climate change do not wait. The Open University both teaches about and does research relevant to climate change. It has more than seven thousand staff and nearly 200,000 students who will be affected by climate change, let alone the millions of learners using OpenLearn.
This climate change page brings together existing OpenLearn content that is directly relevant to climate change which you can study but will also feature a series of weekly articles on different aspects of climate change as seen from the perspective of different constituencies across the whole Open University community. These weekly articles will start in September 2021 and will continue into the Spring of 2022.
Through these courses, articles and other content we hope to not only educate, inform and engage you but to provoke discussion, debate, and action from you. We need to see this as a global problem but one where local action, multiplied millions of times in homes and communities across the world can make a difference.
Discover more about the wider issue of sustainability in our interactive Sustainability Hub, featuring more articles plus videos, interactives and free courses on the subject.
And you can find even more free content from across the wider subject area of Nature & the Environment on OpenLearn.
NEW articles this week...
Derek Taylor reflects on the 25 years since launching the innovative Open University T521 Renewable Energy Pack for Tertiary Education. This was a revolutionary development for the OU.Read now ❯The first 25 years: OU Renewable Energy Education
A savvy shift in industrial resourcefulness is reflected in products that last longer, are adaptable, maintainable, and repairable. Such products optimise material value through preventing waste. These design strategies challenge the ways we create, use, and dispose of our everyday stuff. By extending the utility of our products, we reduce wastes, such as carbon emissions, across the whole product lifecycle.Read now ❯The benefits of a longer product life
How might an Indigenous artwork transform responses to Climate Change? Find out as a Totonac totem travels to COP26.Read now ❯Indigenous ceremonies and climate change
Divestment from fossil fuels has increased over the last decade as a moral and financial response to the climate crisis, but is it an effective approach to tackle the severity of challenges we now face and how can it support the goals of COP26?Read now ❯Let your money do the talking: fossil fuel divestment and COP26
You might now understand what COP stands for, but have you heard of the TCFD requirements?Read now ❯Managing our personal financial risks from the changed climate
The films on this page explore climate change in two countries: Bangladesh in south Asia, and Senegal in west Africa.Read now ❯Climate change in the global South: Bangladesh and Senegal
The way we live impacts our Earth, it is changing the climate and threatening livelihoods, species and ecosystems. It is clear our current strategies of supporting our way of life can't continue. Globalisation means it isn't always easy to see the impacts our behaviour has on others and the natural world, or what we can to make more sustainable choices.Read now ❯Sustainability Hub
Responding to the climate crisis can feel overwhelming. There are so many things we can do to be greener that it's hard to know where to start.Take part now ❯Ideas about living sustainably
Try these free courses
Sustainable Scotland is a free course that will appeal to anyone with an interest in a sustainable future in the context of contemporary Scottish society. It will give you a broad-based introduction to a number of different aspects of sustainability that impact on Scotland and the wider world.Learn more ❯Sustainable Scotland
‘You are what you eat’, goes the old adage, but what you eat also has an impact on the environment. Transcript This free course, Eating for the environment, will explore the links between food, nutrition and environmental sustainability. It will start by exploring the diversity on your dinner plate and encourage you to reflect on it in relation to dietary choices and preferences of people around the world. It will explore the connections between food, culture and traditions, and the challenges in providing healthy and nutritious food to the world’s growing population. The course will examine innovative approaches to food that also help environmental sustainability.Learn more ❯Eating for the environment
This free course, Climate justice for the next generation, frames global warming and climate change in terms of social justice, human rights and intergenerational equality and emphasises how children and those least responsible for climate change are the ones who suffer its most significant consequences. The course looks at the impact climate change has on children’s rights and considers the role the next generation has as activists and campaigners within their changing environments. It concludes with a look at the contemporary work being done on ‘plastic childhoods’. TranscriptLearn more ❯Climate justice for the next generation
More free courses...
Human societies have to take urgent action to end their dependences on fossil fuels. We have to alter the whole path of our development and decision making in order to make our societies both environmentally adaptable and sustainable. This free course, Climate change, takes on the task of trying to chart some of the ways in which it might be possible.Learn more ❯Climate change: transitions to sustainability
Climate crisis is one of the grand challenges we face as a society, but it can be hard to approach as a subject. Not only can the science at times seem dauntingly complex, but the solutions are also far from clear. This leaves many people feeling confused, guilty, anxious, angry, or else completely switched off from the subject. This course tells the story of climate science in a new way, to find a fresh perspective for thinking about the future. It looks at the problem through the lens of climate engineering - the idea of deliberately trying to modify the climate, to counteract the changes we’re observing and predict what will happen in the future. The subject contains everything from hope – new technologies that could prevent the worst impacts of climate change – to enormous controversies over their risks and the way they could be used. More than that, climate engineering serves as a useful tool to move beyond the usual, often frustrating conversations around what to do about the climate crisis. By examining exactly what we want for our planet's climate, and what we would be willing to sacrifice to get there, we might find more clarity in our search for solutions.Learn more ❯Could we control our climate?
Environment: treading lightly on the Earth focuses on the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide. This free course will give you an understanding of the nature and importance of carbon footprints of individuals and households. It will enable you to measure your own carbon footprint and explore what you could do to reduce that footprint and so ‘tread more lightly on the Earth’.Learn more ❯Environment: treading lightly on the Earth
We ask the question ‘Can renewable energy sources power the world?’ as a response to the growing awareness that increased use of renewable energy technologies is making a major contribution to global efforts to limit anthropogenic climate change. The course begins by examining the environmental concerns that have caused a rise in interest in renewable energy, introducing the main sources and technologies, and describing global efforts to increase the share of renewables. The course then looks at each of the principal renewable energy technologies and the contributions they might make to global energy demand. Finally, several future energy scenarios are analysed to show how combinations of renewable energy sources and technologies could provide a major share of global energy needs.Learn more ❯Can renewable energy sources power the world?
The oceans cover more than 70 per cent of our planet. In this free course, The oceans, you will learn about the depths of the oceans and the properties of the water that fills them, what drives the ocean circulation and how the oceans influence our climate.Learn more ❯The oceans
This free course will help you to navigate your own path through the complex landscape of smart cities. You’ll hear from smart city innovators and entrepreneurs, city leaders, communities and business, connecting with learners from around the world to reflect on issues facing smart cities of different sizes and situations.Learn more ❯Smart cities
It is believed that environmental management requires action at all levels and by organisations of all types and sizes. However it is not always clear what we mean by environmental management and the role that organisations do and could play. This free course, explores the different interpretations and viewpoints involved by using system thinking to provide a framework with which to better understand environmental management and organisations.Learn more ❯Environmental management and organisations
Themes covered in this free course, Energy in buildings, include reducing heating demand in buildings, heating systems and fuel emissions, and reducing electricity use by appliances. The course looks at the importance of energy in buildings in the UK, investigate heat loss and how to prevent it, ways of increasing building efficiency, decreasing CO2 emissions of different fuels and the use of efficient appliances.Learn more ❯Energy in buildings
The search for sustainable energy will dominate the twenty-first century. This free course, An introduction to sustainable energy, provides an introductory overview of the present energy systems and takes a brief look at where the world may find energy in the future - cleaner use of fossil fuels or renewable energy sources?Learn more ❯An introduction to sustainable energy
Global warming: are we responsible? Is our environmental impact damaging the planet? This free course, Working with our environment: an introduction, examines the use of ozone-depleting technology, the impact of fossil fuel use and explores how the development of technology can influence the direction of a society. From the Industrial Revolution to the present day, find out how we have changed the planet.Learn more ❯Working with our environment: an introduction
There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. Understanding the environment: A systems approach, is a free course whose primary aim is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human centred thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview. It promotes the shift in perception towards socio-economic systems as dependent upon the finite resources and finite wastes sinks of planet Earth. This is the introductory session in the 'Understanding the environment' series.Learn more ❯Understanding the environment: A systems approach
Many of the decisions we make have implications for our environment, particularly those concerning natural resources and waste. Taking account of environmental factors in decision making can be both complex and challenging. This free course, Introducing environmental decision making, considers decisions in their broader contexts and advocates a systems approach to environmental decision making.Learn more ❯Introducing environmental decision making
Access to safe, clean and sustainable energy supplies is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity during the twenty-first century. This free course, Why sustainable energy matters, will survey the world's present energy systems and their sustainability problems, together with some of the possible solutions to those problems and how these might emerge in practice.Learn more ❯Why sustainable energy matters
This course shows how some of the theories and tools of economics can be applied to understanding and tackling the problem of flood risk in the UK. With the incidence of flooding rising due to climate change, this is an increasingly important policy issue worldwide. You will gain insights into the practical use of economics in a policymaking setting.This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 2 study in Economics.Learn more ❯The economics of flood insurance
The interactions of business with the non-commercial environment are under increasing scrutiny. This free course, Environmental factors and organisations, looks at the relationships between business and social and ecological environments, often referred to under the umbrella term of Corporate Social Responsibility. The course examines efforts to reconcile what often look to be competing demands by moving towards a more ethical environment.Learn more ❯Environmental factors and organisations
This free course, The environmental impact of teaching and learning, discusses the impact on the environment of carbon based teaching and learning in Higher Education Institutions. It introduces a suite of innovative tools and resources which have been designed to help assess and identify ways to reduce these impacts.Learn more ❯The environmental impact of teaching and learning
This free course, Financial methods in environmental decisions, begins by introducing some of the tools that can be used to assess the benefits of investment decisions, including ways of assessing the ‘external costs’ – the wider costs and benefits to society as a whole – of environmental decisions.Learn more ❯Financial methods in environmental decisions
The development of this page has involved many people across the university:
- Marjan Ajevski
- Shonil Bhagwat
- Richard Blundel
- Nick Braithwaite
- Clare Charlton
- Julia Cooke
- Jessica Davies
- Emma Dewberry
- Lucy Gilbert
- Nicola Graham
- Victoria Hands
- Stuart Parris
- Joanna Paul
- Stephen Peake
- Alison Penn
- Jane Roberts
- Shasha Wang