“Climate Change Agreement Game”

During the (annual) “Vlaamse Wetenschapweek” the UHasselt welcomed several high schools. Hence, on the 27th of October our research group offered several workshops on sustainability. One of them was the climate change negotiation game called “Climate Interactive”, that is built to simulate climate agreement negotiations and was/is designed by MIT. The software “C-roads”, which is a climate simulator, allows players to check the impact of their decisions. Fun fact: this tool is used during the actual climate agreement negotiations.

How to play the game:

Students were assigned to a specific region upon arrival. Considering the size of our groups we opted to play the game with six regions instead of for instance three. The six regions were: China, United States, other developed countries, India, other developing countries and the European Union. We welcomed the students and asked them to imagine that they had just enter the climate change Conference in Marrakesh (November 2016).

To visualize the wealth or lack thereof, the wealthiest region was provided with a table, chairs, drinks, food and a table cloth to make it all the more fancy.

The poorest region was asked to sit on the floor (island in the sea) in between the garbage of the developed countries.

Each region received a region briefing with region specific information on the goals, context, global landscape, opportunities, land use, national actions, the public opinion, CO2 emissions and GDP. The researchers of Hasselt University translated the briefing documents in Dutch.

During the first round, each region was asked to fill in the proposal form, stating by how much they were willing to cut back on emissions. More specifically, they needed to state the emissions peak year, emissions reduction begin year and the annual rate of reduction (%/year). Furthermore, they needed to state their reduction in deforestation on the one hand and on how much they want to contribute to afforestation on the other hand. Finally, they needed to state their contribution to the global fund for mitigation and adaptation. At the end of the first round, we entered the pledges into C-roads so that the students could see the impact of their efforts. However, the budget needed to be checked too. Did the fund collect the $100 billion per year that is needed to support the poorest regions?


During the second round students were allowed to negotiate with the other regions to come to an even better end result.

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After the final round, we looked at the impact of the agreements made. Most often they postponed rather than avoid a temperature rise above 2 degrees. This kind of exercise shows how complex but feasible it is to come to a solid and sufficient outcome.

To get the students even more acquainted with the subject at hand, Tom Kuppens showed some of the slides provided by Climate Interactive. He discussed the possible effects of a 2 degree rise in temperature and gave them some insight for instance on the bathtub effect of carbon emissions and potential sea level rise in the Netherlands.

Some of the take home messages of the game are: we need the developing countries on board to reach the goal (staying below 2 degrees increase in temperature), efforts regarding afforestation and deforestation are meaningful but not gigantic and we need to act fast!




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