Summer Timetable

POL377H1F L0101

Topics in Comparative Politics I

Capitalism, Fossil Fuels, and Climate Change


Climate change is not simply an environmental problem for which there is a technological solution. The roots of climate change are inextricably linked to the international political economy of the fossil fuel industry and the current global economic system. This course examines the interactions between capitalism, fossil fuel extraction and use, and climate change. Students will learn about the political economy of fossil fuels and how the enmeshment of capitalism and fossil fuel use has led to the current climate crisis. Particular focus will be given to cases of wealthy, liberal democracies with major fossil fuel industries, namely: Australia, Canada, Norway, and the United States. A central goal of this course is to engage and empower students to critically understand why existing climate policies remain largely inadequate and what ideas, interests and institutional arrangements must change if the worst of climate change is to be avoided.


Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism v. the Climate; New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014.
Malm, Andreas. Fossil Capital: The rise of steam power and the roots of global warming; London: Verso, 2016.
Mitchell, Timothy. Carbon Democracy: Political power in the age of oil; London: Verso, 2014.

Format and Requirements

Research Proposal (10%); Critical Reflection (15%); Midterm Test (15%); Research Essay (30%); Final Exam (30%)