The Energy & Environment Special Interest Group from Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, held a session of the Climate Action Simulation game, at the end of May. Facilitated by Andrei Covatariu (Romania), the game gathered around 30 MBA students from all over the world, with different educational backgrounds and from different professional sectors.
The session was initially planned for a full workshop, in Cambridge, UK, but the COVID-19 situation called for an adjustment of plans. The online simulation was design for two rounds of negotiations and decisions, the game setup being adjusted accordingly. It included five “classic” teams (Climate Justice Hawks; Land, Agriculture & Forestry; Conventional Energy; Clean Tech; Industry & Commerce) and three different types of Governments (Developed Countries; Fast Growing Countries; Slow Growing Countries).
After a short session, within the predetermined teams, the above-mentioned groups were paired, a context aimed to ignite debates and negotiations for the upcoming first round of decisions.
While several inspired decisions were taken by the first teams, the expected positive result was offset by Land, Agriculture & Forestry, which opted for a more conservative reduction of methane and other GHG (previously increased significantly by Slow Growing Countries). At the same time, the Industry & Commerce team reduced the previously modified carbon price, from “maximum taxation” to only “high taxation”.
Moreover, the Developed Countries group’s decision to increase the rate of economic growth turned out to be a trap, as instead of decreasing the temperature, it increased it by 0.2oC (due to less concern on energy efficiency measures and increased consumption, determined by higher wages).
The second round of the session – which also included debates and negotiations between paired teams – featured more aggressive steps towards GHG reduction (see figure 3). Consequently, some of the timid inputs added in the first round were reintroduced in a more decisive manner, in this second iteration. Additionally, investments in new technologies and energy efficiency (both in the transportation sector as well as in buildings and industry) have been increased.
These straightforward steps translated into clear climate benefits, the group being able to reach a level of +1.6o C. Although the group was positively surprised by the end result, we concluded that additional measures would have to be taken to meet the recommended +1.5o C threshold.
The end of the second round included an extended debate on the costs associated with the transition process and with the deployment of clean generation technologies. It also included a discussion on affordability issues, especially in slow growing countries, thus related to the difficult challenges brought by the energy transition in these regions. Moreover, it was debated on the important role of changes needed at cultural level, especially considering the need to reduce methane emissions from agriculture.
The session ended with a call for action for all the participants, both at personal and organizational levels, acknowledging the fact that avoiding the worst-case scenario is still possible.