Teaching Resources Library


Public Policy

The World Climate Simulation: Negotiating a Climate Change Agreement


John Sterman, Thomas Fiddaman, Travis Franck, Ellie Johnston, Andrew Jones, Stephanie McCauley, Philip Rice, Juliette N. Rooney-Varga, Elizabeth Sawin, and Lori Siegel


The World Climate Simulation  is a group role playing simulation of the international climate change negotiations. This exercise provides participants the chance to 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 negotiators representing countries and regional blocs that work to create an agreement that limits climate change by reducing GHG emissions. Proposals are tested using a climate policy simulation model that provides participants science-based feedback on the implications of their proposals for atmospheric carbon dioxide 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.


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, international affairs, energy policy, and intergenerational equity. Participants also develop their skills in negotiation, presentation, and policy evaluation.


The World Climate Simulation has been run in nearly 100 countries with diverse groups, including high school, university and graduate students, business executives, and political leaders. The simulation usually takes around 3 hours to run and is optimal for groups of 6 to 40 people, though it has been adapted for different lengths of time and larger audiences. The materials for facilitators and participants are freely accessible, and available in multiple languages. To assess policies, facilitators use the C-ROADS Climate Change Policy Simulator.

The World Climate Simulation was developed by Climate Interactive, the System Dynamics Group at MIT Sloan, and the UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative.


international policy, climate science, environmental policy, sustainability science, public policy, energy economics and policy, system dynamics, mathematical modeling, and negotiations

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