Climate simulation negotiations

Aug 3, 2021 by

During the second AEMS Summer School’s afternoon sessions on 28 July of this year's AEMS Summer School, Dr. Helga Kromp-Kolb and Halliki Kreinin invited 27 participants for Climate simulation Negotiations. The session lasted for 3.5 hours.

Dr. Helga Kromp-Kolb firstly presented scientific information related to climate change such as: deforestation and land-use change, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and climate finance. Then she presented the baseline scenario of the temperature increase from 2000-2100 and what +3°C of global warming would mean. The session started with the agenda: an introduction to the simulation game, a welcome to the summit, followed by the first round of proposals from each group member, and a second round of negotiations and proposals between other groups’ members. Finally, the third round ended with debriefing in the groups.

The goal of the simulation was to try to limit global warming to less than 2ºC and as close to 1.5ºC as possible. A core aspect was agreeing on a deal to share costs of mitigation and adaptation funds to aid the most vulnerable nations. Each group had to make a decision on the following: yearly emissions peak, yearly emissions reduction, annual reduction rate (%/yr), prevention of deforestation, afforestation effort, and the contribution or request from global funds ($B/yr). Each group was given 15 minutes to negotiate with other groups’ members for the second and third round. They designated a representative to give a 2 minute plenary presentation by describing each group’s emissions and forestry proposals. Their funding contributions or requests explained why they committed to those numbers.

The participants were divided into six groups to represent the following blocks: United States, European Union, China, India, Southern Globe (developing countries) and Northern Globe (developed countries). The number of group members was assigned relatively based on the presented country's population. The simulation game is based on the platform presented from the climate interaction module, the pledges were tested in C-ROAD, which is a scientifically reviewed policy simulator (https://c-roads.climateinteractive.org/).

Each group had to represent their state or block as delegates and negotiate with others for reaching a compromise to limit the average global temperature increase  to 1.5° C. The main question was what their countries could do to achieve this reduction and how to convince their populations of these measures  regarding the climate crisis. Another question revolved around the issue of what other groups can do for mitigating climate change. What is more, each group had to follow a negotiation strategy and reach their group expectations.

The process of the simulation was the following:

  1. Formulating the negotiation strategy. 
     - What are the vital interests of each group?
     - What is politically feasible in each country or block?
     - What does your nation need from the other nations?
     - What can your nation offer to others?
  1. Talking to other groups and negotiating for the best possible outcome for the group
  2. Preparing a brief speech to outline each group's intended climate action plans.

As a result of the first round a limitation of the global temperature increase of only 2.8ºC was achieved. In the second round, cumulative proposals lead to a limitation of 2.1ºC, which also did not meet the target. In the third round, 2ºC could be achieved only.

In the last 30 minutes, after closing the summit simulation, Dr. Helga Kromp-Kolb discussed the feedback with the participants and asked them what their feelings, expectations, and attitudes were, what surprised them and what was their impression after the simulation experience. The answers were varied from surprised, shocked, optimistic, confused, to devastated… with mentioning the feeling of similarities and differentiations with the real vision of it from different perspectives.

The interaction of the participants was very high and fruitful, and the aim of the session, to enlighten the students about the climate change summit and its vital responsibility and importance, was reached. The feedback from the participants varied according to different aspects, however most of the statements were about exploring, discovering, optimistic, surprising, fascinating, shocking and devastating feelings. But generally, it was an impressive and educative experience widening the view for such topics.

Written by: Mahmoud Barakat and Ihab Barakat

Based on the session "Climate Negotiations Simulation" with Helga Kromp-Kolb and Halliki Kreinin during the AEMS summer school 2021.