Get a Better Understanding of Climate Change Issues Through Simulation



Global warming and climate change have become hot-button issues in the past few decades. Many disagree on the long-term effects and what needs to be done to correct it, if anything at all. In their article published in Simulation and Gaming, “WORLD CLIMATE: A Role-Play Simulation of Climate Negotiations,” collaborators John Sterman, Travis Franck, Thomas Fiddaman, Andrew Jones, Stephanie McCauley, Philip Rice, Elizabeth Sawin, Lori Siegel and Juliette N. Rooney-Varga suggest that communication issues are to blame and offer up a unique solution in the form of online simulation and role playing programs.

The abstract:

Global negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have so far failed to produce an agreement. Even if negotiations succeeded, however, a binding treaty could not be ratified or implemented in many nations due to inadequate public support for emissions reductions. The scientific consensus on the reality and risks of anthropogenic climate change has never been stronger, yet public S&G_2013_C1.inddsupport for action in many nations remains weak. Policymakers, educators, the media, civic and business leaders, and citizens need tools to understand the dynamics and geopolitical implications of climate change. The WORLD CLIMATE simulation provides an interactive role-play experience through which participants explore these issues using a scientifically sound climate policy simulation model. Participants playing the roles of negotiators from major nations and stakeholders negotiate proposals to reduce GHG emissions. Participants then receive immediate feedback on the implications of their proposals for atmospheric GHG concentrations, global mean surface temperature, sea level rise, and other impacts through the C-ROADS (Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support) policy simulation model used by negotiators and policymakers. The role-play enables participants to explore the dynamics of the climate and impacts
of proposed policies using a model consistent with the best available peer-reviewed science. WORLD CLIMATE has been used successfully with students, teachers, business executives, and political leaders around the world. Here, we describe protocols for the role-play and the resources available to run it, including C-ROADS and all needed materials, all freely available at We also present evaluations of the impact of WORLD CLIMATE with diverse groups.

Read “WORLD CLIMATE: A Role-Play Simulation of Climate Negotiations” in Simulation and Gaming for free by clicking here.

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Tackling a Global Challenge: California’s Climate Change Policy

“California’s Climate Change Policy: The Case of a Subnational State Actor Tackling a Global Challenge,” by Daniel A. Mazmanian, University of Southern California, John Jurewitz, Pomona College, and Hal Nelson, Claremont Graduate University, currently appears as one of the most frequently cited articles in “The Journal of Environment and Development,” based on citations to online articles from HighWire-hosted articles.

Professor Mazmanian has kindly provided some additional background information regarding the popular article from December 2008.

We are delighted to be asked to expound a bit on our motives and goals in writing about California’s ambitious climate change mitigation strategy. Based on the rather extraordinary attention that the policy, specifically AB32(2006), was receiving in the press at the time of our writing and in national and international policy discussions of climate policy, we felt that readers would appreciate knowing more about the substantive details of the policy. How was California going to accomplish what others were unprepared and unwilling to attempt? Also, we wanted to place this in the context of California’s long history of environmental policy entrepreneurship.

Yet, despite its tradition of environmental leadership, climate change mitigation poses unique pragmatic and conceptual challenges that lead us to question aloud the intelligence and implementability of the policy. Of particular concern is that the policy commits Californian’s to absorbing whatever the costs to its economic competitiveness and the pocketbooks of its citizens in order to reach the IPCC reduction goals for green house gases reductions. It does so through a combination of strong regulation and market incentives. The problem, as we saw it, is that the benefits of doing so could end up being only minimally reaped within the state, indeed, the greater the success in implementation could impose the greatest potential costs. In game theoretic language, thus, California chose to gamble that it could turn this risk to its own ends and that it would not end up being the ‘sucker’ in the climate change policy arena. Maybe, and as hopefully as we were personally, we felt the risk needed to be recognized. The policy is also unprecedented in that it declares that GHG reductions will be borne by all major sectors of the state, with the unprecedented implications for changing practices in business and industry, and individual behavior.

In the three years since first drafting the article, much has changed in the state and globally, in particular within the climate change policy arena. In light of this we are currently considering a follow on article that compares the decision-making process in climate change mitigation and adaptation policy in California, with likely implications well beyond the state.

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