More than 10,000 people around the globe, in 43 countries from Argentina to Zimbabwe – and more than half in the United States – have participated in Climate Interactive’s World Climate Exercise as the world embarks on the United Nations climate talks in Paris. World Climate is the cornerstone of the World Climate Project, launched in August 2015 at the White House’s Climate Education event. The simulation is a mock-UN, role-playing educational game that enables participants to get a taste of the dynamics that emerge as nations negotiate a global climate change agreement while they develop a greater understanding of what is needed to address this pressing global challenge. Students, professionals, government officials, and community members—and more—are playing the simulation.
For those who have experienced it, World Climate creates a greater awareness of the issue of climate change and, more specifically, more awareness of the UN climate talks. It is designed to make participants consider both science and policy realities as they try to reach their own international climate change agreement. Many indicate significant take-aways, like “This really helped me understand how difficult it is to reach agreement — we found it so difficult to agree within our bloc let alone with the others.” And “I hadn’t realized that tackling climate change is so linked to economic growth and the challenge that this adds to making progress.”
In the words of Professor John Sterman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, “When we can experiment with the consequences of our decisions through simulations such as World Climate we can discover for ourselves how complex systems work, what the impact of different policies might be, and thus integrate science into decision making. Computer simulations are the only way we have to see what unfolds over the decades and centuries that climate change, and many of the important issues we face today, plays out.”
The exercise will remain relevant in the future as nations continue to come together to address climate change. It uses a peer-reviewed computer model called C-ROADS. Created by Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan School of Management, C-ROADS is an award-winning computer model that helps people understand the long-term climate impacts of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It allows for the rapid summation of national greenhouse gas reduction pledges (INDCs) and their long-term impact on our climate in order to provide information for decision-making. All the materials for the game, along with the C-ROADS open-source software, are downloadable free of charge from Climate Interactive’s website.
World Climate is effective in diverse settings. Professor Sterman facilitates World Climate with international groups in executive education at MIT. World Climate also works at public high schools in the United States. Climate Interactive relies on volunteers to translate materials, which are currently available and being used in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Chinese.
Prof Juliette Rooney-Varga from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, who has run the simulation many times, commented that “World Climate is engaging, memorable, and scientifically rigorous. Many of my students have called it a transformative experience that motivated them to engage more deeply with climate change and sustainability.”
To learn more about World Climate, register for a webinar or go to staging.climateinteractive.org. And if you happen to be in Paris, you can experience World Climate for yourself on December 4th from 11:30 to 1:00 in the Climate Generations area at Le Bourget.