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Imperial College offers investors an online class on climate change. Bonus: It's free

·Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK
An aerial view of a coal-fired power station in Germany. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Photo: Getty
An aerial view of a coal-fired power station in Germany. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Photo: Getty

The climate change warnings from scientists, politicians and economists have grown louder in recent years. Naturally, investors are asking: “Is now the time to buy or sell?”

The prestigious Imperial College Business School in London wants to equip investors for the warming, melting future by launching a new free online course designed to explore the threats and opportunities associated with climate change.

The course “responds to the challenge set out by central banks, financial regulators, and economic policymakers to provide investors with better information about the financial risks and opportunities presented by climate change,” the university said in a statement. Participants will learn about emerging trends in climate-resilient investing and gain insights into potential winners and losers in the ongoing energy transition.”

Business schools have been stepping up their course offerings related to climate change in recent years, with the London School of Economics offering a five-day programme next year on the economic issues surrounding climate change. New York’s Columbia Business School also offered a class last year on investing in climate change.

The new course is being offered in partnership with a European Union-backed group called Climate-KIC, which supports efforts to transition to a zero-carbon world. The class is available on the free online learning platform, edX.

The website promoting the course features a five-minute video with the instructor, Charles Donovan, director of the Centre for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College London.

There’s a growing need for investment managers to understand the investment implications of climate change,” said Donovan in a statement. “There is ample evidence that climate risks are having an impact on the value of equity and fixed income portfolios. This course will help those unaware of these risks to get back in the game.”

The course comes weeks after the United Nations published an alarming report warning that rising temperatures had created a life-or-death scenario for multitudes of species and ecosystems. The UN report, authored by dozens of scientists, warned that keeping the Earth’s temperature from rising too quickly meant making rapid, unprecedented changes in the way people eat, travel and live.

The past 18 years have been the warmest on record since the 1850s when measurements began, according to the UN’s leading meteorological expert, Petteri Taalas . Scientists attribute the temperature rises and extreme weather mainly to greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

The Nobel prize organisation also acknowledged the challenges associated with climate change this year by awarding its prestigious Nobel prize in economics to William Nordhaus from Yale University, for his work on “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis”.

Related: Most Dow 30 companies really care about climate change

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