May 27, 2014 by Stephanie McCauley
Our World Climate exercise and C-ROADS climate simulation are powerful for helping to explore climate change and learn about global social responsibility. Below is a review of how business students at Germany’s Reutlingen University experienced these tools. Click here to view more images from the workshop.
Climate change simulation debuts at ESB
Master Students of International Business Development (IBD) and International Accounting and Taxation (IAT) were the first German Business students to play the UN approved climate change simulation C-Roads.
By: Konstantin Uplegger (IBD) and Prof. Dr. Florian Kapmeier (ESB)
Climate Change is a topic relating to everybody. Discussions on which measures to take to prevent global warming have taken place for many years. The UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that we can only avoid dangerous consequences from climate change by limiting the temperature increase to 2°C by 2100 over pre-industrial average. Even though some nations commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nations’ leaders do not jointly agree on the size of emissions cuts, if at all. Consequently, climate researchers worldwide agree that current emission cuts are not enough. Nations’ leaders thus meet annually to continue the negotiations – which seem to be highly challenging.
On January 16th, 2014, the Master students of IBD and IAT at the ESB Business School in Reutlingen were able to experience the difficulty of these negotiations and the demanding underlying topic of climate change by simulating the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations. The negotiation simulation is supported by the official UN-approved simulation tool C-Roads, which is based on a scientifically peer-reviewed System Dynamics model – and which the actual climate negotiators use at the annual UNFCCC meetings to simulate impacts of climate policies.
For the simulation the students were divided into groups and assigned to different nations or blocks including the EU, USA, China, India, and Other Developing Countries to represent the different situations of the nations or blocks taking part at the UNFCCC negotiations. Moreover, Environmental Activists and the Fossil Fuel Lobbyists tried to influence the Officials’ decisions during the negotiations.
Negotiators had to agree on
- the year to stop growth of CO2 emissions,
- the feasible year of CO2 emissions reduction start,
- the annual percentage of CO2 reduction,
- deforestation, and
- afforestation, if possible.
The simulation was guided by Prof. Dr. Florian Kapmeier, who gave the students insights in the current scientific state of climate change and which goals the UNFCCC wishes to achieve. Negotiation results were entered into the C-ROADS simulation model and the simulation output, thus the long-term impact of today’s decisions on world climate, was delivered instantaneously. Results included global CO2 emissions, atmospheric CO2 accumulation until 2100, sea level rise, and ocean acidification. Even though the negotiators finally did not meet the UN objective of a 2°C temperature increase until 2100 after the two negotiation rounds, the learnings were tremendous. The simulation effectively visualized how difficult the negotiations actually are and what the nations’ and blocs’ actual agendas and arguments are behind their point of views. As Veronika Müller, one of the participants stated: “Each nations’ standpoint is indeed understandable. Yet, the simulation showed that small compromises are not enough to change the situation. Instead, a clear concession by all nations is required. Moreover, the C-Roads simulations helped me understanding that climate change is not only a problem of future generations. I realized that it will slowly but steadily and dramatically affect already our generation.” Overall, the participants learned a lot about the human impact on climate change and the underlying complexity of the topic. Many participants gained many new insights, arguments and ideas on what to do against climate change.
In addition, the simulation is an excellent example for incorporating the values of global social responsibility into all academic activities at Reutlingen University. Students experience the effects of political decisions on climate change as one of the most important aspects of sustainability. Besides, they negotiate in a multi-cultural setting with strong interest groups, including representatives of the oil industry and environmentalists. In order to find compromises participants have to cultivate tolerant, respectful and fair behavior. This makes the simulation an outstanding learning experience.
The simulation was financially supported by the Program for Ethics and Sustainable Development at Reutlingen University. Thanks to Prof. Dr. Bernd Banke (ESB & Ethics Officer of Reutlingen University) and Dr. Ulrike Baumgärtner (Consultant for Ethics and Sustainable Development of Reutlingen University).
The next C-Roads simulation will take place on 5 June, for more information please contact Prof. Kapmeier.