ELE 3910 Global Sustainability: Climate, Environment and Poverty

ELE 3910 Global Sustainability: Climate, Environment and Poverty

Course code: 
ELE 3910
Course coordinator: 
Per Botolf Maurseth
Ingrid Hjort
Course name in Norwegian: 
Global Sustainability: Climate, Environment and Poverty
Product category: 
Bachelor - Programme Electives
2024 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

Economics is a social science. It is concerned with human beings, quality of life and the social systems by which we organize our societies. Global environmental issues, health issues, inequality and poverty are among the largest challenges of the current and the future population. Why are some countries progressing while others remain poor? What causes extreme poverty and what type of policies have been the most effective for improving the lives of the poor? How are local environmental challenges associated with the countries’ wealth? How much should be spent on pollution control, and it is worth reducing pollution to zero?

Environmental problems and climate change are linked to poverty and distributional issues. Will fighting one problem necessary help us to solve the other? This course applies economic analysis to investigate the global sustainability challenges, such as climatic changes, degradation of shared resources and unequal economic development. Environmental economics looks at how economic activity and policy affect the environment in which we live, where development economics investigates the economies of developing nations. In this course we study policy solutions, the role of institutions and global cooperation to critical global issues.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge

The aim of this course is to provide an understanding of the core topics in environmental and development economics.

Students will gain knowledge about:

  • Sustainability challenges, such as climate change, global pollution problems, development and poverty.
  • How to analyze sustainability challenges with methods from economics.
  • Global societal consequences caused by sustainability challenges.
  • Public goods problems caused by incentive structures.
  • Regulation of market failures, distributional issues and optimal use of policy regulation.
  • How different types of policy measures can be formed, and how consequences can be measured in society, in organizations and in firms.
  • How to measure poverty, inequality and development.
  • Basic economic theory of growth, trade and institutions.
Learning outcomes - Skills

The overall goal is that students should be able to facilitate firms, organizations or policy makers in making better and well-informed choices.

Students should be able to:

  • Explain the most central sustainability challenges, both globally and locally.
  • Explain how phenomena such as externalities, public goods and missing markets can give inefficiency and welfare loss.
  • Critically evaluate policy design within sustainability issues
  • Critically assess the effectiveness of environmental and development policies using economic theory and analysis.
  • Analyze countries’ development with use of growth models.
  • Analyze international economic integration of development countries into the world economy.
General Competence

Student will learn to identify the relevant economic problems facing firms and governments in an environmental and sustainable development context.

Students should be able to think critically about the underlying assumptions of the methods used to analyze problems, prescribe solutions, and evaluate implementations of governments’ policies.

Course content
  • Local and global pollution and environmental problems;
  • Market failures;
  • Efficiency versus equity;
  • Pollution targets and environmental policy instruments;
  • Valuation and cost benefit analysis;
  • Climate change economics;
  • International agreements and global cooperation;
  • Growth theory;
  • Poverty and equality measures;
  • International labor market, trade and globalization;
  • Institutions and governance.
Teaching and learning activities

The course consists of lectures and seminars.

Software tools
No specified computer-based tools are required.
Additional information

Please note that while attendance is not compulsory, it is the student’s own responsibility to obtain any information provided in class. 


Higher Education Entrance Qualification


Deviations in teaching and exams may occur if external conditions or unforeseen events call for this.

Required prerequisite knowledge

No specific prerequisites are required.

Exam category: 
School Exam
Form of assessment: 
Written School Exam - pen and paper
Exam/hand-in semester: 
First Semester
Support materials: 
  • No support materials
5 Hour(s)
Exam code: 
ELE 39101
Grading scale: 
Examination when next scheduled course
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Student workload
90 Hour(s)
Prepare for teaching
230 Hour(s)
Individual problem solving
45 Hour(s)
35 Hour(s)
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 15 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 400 hours.