MOOC Climate Change & Health for Policy-Makers

About the course

This MOOC was developed by four eminent scientists who together authored the health chapter in the recent 5th Assessment report of the IPCC. They offer you a short crash-course into the topic of climate change, tailored to senior policy-makers and negotiators of climate agreements, particularly as an input into the climate conference COP21 in Paris in December this year.

This 1 week MOOC requires 3 hours of investment time and provides hard evidence for four key arguments as to why health is and should be central in climate policy.

Two positive arguments:

  1. Health is a positive motivator, a driving force for citizens and policy-makers to care about and act on climate change.
  2. The huge health co-benefits must enter the risk-benefit calculations.

However, two arguments pertain to the restrictions that our health and physiology impose on humans under climate change, particularly in a world that is +4°C warmer:

  1. There are health limits to adaptation.
  2. Decreased work productivity in hot countries.

Finally, we should consider health as an indicator, not only for sustainable development, but also for climate policy.

Course team

Since 1997, Prof. Rainer Sauerborn has been the Chair of Public Health at Heidelberg University. He has a long-standing track record of service and research in Africa and Asia on health systems with a particular focus on climate change and health.
Rainer Sauerborn was lead author of the health chapter of the recent assessment report of the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate change). He served as an advisor to the German Federal Government on “Global Environmental Changes” from 2000-2004.


This is a one week MOOC.

The course is organised in 4 short lectures (8 minutes), which are complementary and follow a common storyline. So it is desirable that the participants watch all of them. This would be an essential useful minimum of investment.

We offer 7 optional quiz questions for each lecture in case the participant wishes to check on his or her comprehension of the factual information provided.

Our discussion forums are key to our MOOC concept. This enables participants to engage in an exchange of views and information on any topic they wish related to the course topic. The course instructor and his assistant will actively participate in the forums.

Weekly YouTube feedback video: The course instructor will personally answer questions that are of great common interest or are frequently asked during a weekly youtube video, put online each Friday at 2pm CET.

Personal email feedback: The instructor and our team will be available to respond to individual questions and comments directed at us through internal mail during the 3 months that the course will be online.

Course plan

The course is organised in 4 lectures, each developing the evidence for the 4 health arguments, which we propose are inherent in all negotiations on climate policy:
1. Health is a positive motivator, a driving force for citizens.
2. The huge health co-benefits must enter the risk-benefit calculations.
3. There are health limits to adaptation.
4. Decreased work productivity in hot countries.


Participants should be aware of the current debate on climate change concerning mitigation, adaptation, financing and responsibilities.

This MOOC was mostly developed for members of climate negotiation teams from the United Nations as well as for any international, national, regional or local policy-makers. Nevertheless, this course remains understandable for any citizen willing to learn more about the topic.

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