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World Climate: Negotiating a Global Climate Change Agreement

MIT Sloan > LearningEdge > Simulations > World Climate: Negotiating a Global Climate Change Agreement
John Sterman, Thomas Fiddaman, Travis Franck, Andrew Jones, Stephanie McCauley, Philip Rice, Juliette N. Rooney-Varga, Elizabeth Sawin and Lori Siegel
World Climate, a climate policy simulation model developed by Climate Interactive in conjunction with the System Dynamics Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management, provides an interactive role-play environment through which participants explore the risks of climate change and the challenges of negotiating international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In a live, face-to-face setting, participants play the roles of major GHG emitting nations and negotiate proposals to reduce emissions through the year 2100. 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. World Climate enables participants to explore the dynamics of the climate and impacts of proposed policies in a way that is consistent with the best available peer-reviewed science but that does not prescribe what should be done.
Learning Objective
To enable participants to learn about climate science and climate policy interactively, in a realistic, multidisciplinary context that integrates issues including the dynamics of climate change, economic development, renewable, low-carbon energy, and intergenerational equity. Participants also develop their skills in negotiation, presentation, and policy evaluation. World Climate has been used successfully with diverse groups, including high school, university and graduate students, business executives, and political leaders.
Instructor Note
The World Climate simulation may be played using either C-Learn, a 3-region climate policy simulation which focuses on how the changes in national and regional emissions could affect GHG emission and climate outcomes, or C-ROADS, a more complex, 6-region simulation. C-ROADS is the climate policy simulation model now being used by negotiators and policymakers worldwide.

C-Learn and C-ROADS utilize the same underlying climate simulation but differ on the number and type of interactive inputs—3 regions vs. 6 regions.

The effectiveness of World Climate lies more in the interactivity fostered by the exercise itself than in the supporting software.

Who should use C-Learn?

C-Learn is designed for people learning about the impacts of carbon emissions and the level of action required by developed and developing countries to effectively address those impacts. It is the more often used climate simulation with World Climate. C-Learn is accessed through a web-based user interface. The three regions in C-Learn sufficiently represent the differences in global fossil fuel use to make World Climate effective without adding potentially distracting details to the exercise.

Who should use C-ROADS?

C-ROADS operates from a laptop computer and is useful if the exercise venue has no Internet connection. The additional complexity of six regions may be appropriate for some facilitators who wish to pursue more details about the climate simulation itself or about some of the major individual countries/regions—the US, EU, China and India. C-ROADS can be obtained by requesting a download from Climate Interactive. C-ROADS is not available for Mac operating systems directly but will operate in a Windows emulated environment on the Mac. C-ROADS requires Microsoft Excel.

Could be taught in the following course(s)
climate science, climate change policy, sustainability, public policy, environmental science and policy, energy technology, energy policy, energy economics, system dynamics/mathematical modeling, negotiations


En-ROADS is a global model that focuses on how changes in the energy, economic, and public policy systems could affect greenhouse gas emissions and climate outcomes. It uses C-ROADS for its underlying climate simulation. En-ROADS is currently under development, as is a “World Energy” exercise for use with En-ROADS. Check back for progress and availability.