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Hosting Climate Simulations In Your Community

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Review the background, details, and how to host a simulation event with Climate Interactive's new climate policy simulator, En-ROADS, built with MIT Sloan. This tool helps groups explore the power of a steadily rising price on carbon through policies like the Energy Innovation Act as well as other strategies to address climate change to highlight complementary climate goals including the impact of changes in energy, land use, consumption, agriculture, and other policies. 

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Important Considerations Before Using En-ROADS

The En-ROADS model is remarkably user-friendly and CCL volunteers have effectively used it to expand their understanding of climate policy levers and to disseminate this information into their communities. The model is particularly useful for illuminating the relative effectiveness of certain policy levers, such as a carbon tax, versus others.

However, CCL Research Staff has evaluated En-ROADS results as they pertain to H.R.763 and our general advocacy. We have drawn four important conclusions that CCLers should be aware of:

  1. En-ROADS is a global model and, according to En-ROADS staff, its results do not readily translate to U.S. climate policy impacts.  
  2. En-ROADS shows substantially less global emission reductions from a carbon price than most models cited by the U.N., IMF, and IPCC. Specifically, the vast majority of similar models indicate a gradually rising global carbon price reaching roughly $200 by 2050 would likely hold the global temperature increase to 2.0°C or below, whereas En-ROADS would require a price several times this level to achieve the 2.0°C target.   
  3. Consistent with this, we have full confidence in our fundamental conclusion that if H.R.763 -- with all its provisions contingent on meeting annual emissions targets -- were to be adopted globally, the objective of holding the temperature increase below to 2.0°C is very likely to be achieved. We are convinced of that and believe this is supported by the literature.  
  4. Finally, experts make clear that modeled estimates of global emission reductions from a carbon price are most reliable for 10-15 years, but much less so thereafter. Volunteers and their audiences should understand that such estimates ranging all the way out to 2100 are highly uncertain.    
Climate Interactive Background

Climate Interactive is a think tank that provides modeling for climate policies and tools that show what’s needed to contain global warming below 2°C as well as other climate goals on a global level. The organization believes that the best way to engage policymakers in supporting effective climate policy is not to give them the answers, but to give them the tools to find the answers themselves. 

Drew Jones, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Climate Interactive, shared that the motivation for their newest interactive tool was the realization best summed up by one of the team members, Professor John Sterman: 

‘Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work.’”

In the face of this realization, Drew and the Climate Interactive team found inspiration in the words of American architect Buckminster Fuller who said:

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” 

How To Use The En-ROADS Simulator Tool

With this in mind, Climate Interactive designs interactive tools that people can play and work with to explore climate solutions for themselves. Over the course of eight years, through the work of countless climate scientists, IPCC authors, and many other experts, and with the most up-to-date data, Climate Interactive has developed the En-ROADS tool which is now available at a beta development level. En-ROADS is an interactive climate model that allows the user to apply different combinations of policies and observe their effects on global energy production and on our climate system. You could imagine a future with more renewable energy, or less oil, or electrification of cars, or less deforestation.  

How to use the simulator

  • Works with any size group
  • Ideally, one process facilitator, one running simulator
  • You are their guide and support (their thinking partner), not a presenter or lecturer
Lead the group through a set of questions, such as: 
  1. What are the actions to take on climate that are your preferred solutions?
  2. What would the impact be of a carbon pricing policy like the Energy Innovation Act?
  3. What else is required to deliver on climate goals?

For example, you can model the impact of agricultural or forestry practices on our global temperature projections - or what changes in different regulatory approaches, technologies, or transportation policies lead to in terms of greenhouse gas reductions. 

The model can also approximate how the climate will react if all countries implemented a price on carbon, though again, long-dated estimates are highly uncertain and En-ROADS appears to show less reductions to a carbon price than most models. A price structure similar to  the Energy Innovation Act that CCL supports in Congress can be simulated. Although En-ROADS cannot exactly duplicate this proposal, CCL’s approximation shows that it would propel a dramatic and fast response on net greenhouse gas emissions, compared to business as usual. If implemented globally, and depending on assumptions about induced innovation, the policy could reduce net global warming by 1.5° to 1.8°C—more than any other proposed policy. This alone would not get global emissions below the 1.5°C IPCC goal. However, it’s important to emphasize two things that cannot be captured in the En-ROADS simulation: 

  • The Energy Innovation Act includes a regulatory mandate that would kick in if emissions don’t meet targets after 10 years. This would likely trigger complementary policies beyond a carbon fee, and the En-Roads simulator offers an opportunity to explore which kinds of additional policies would have the greatest impact. 
  • The En-ROADS results are global, and there are profound differences between energy trends and emissions trajectories within the global economy compared to the U.S.  

En-ROADS is useful to highlight the power of carbon pricing and also enables the user to explore those complementary actions by building additional policies onto the carbon price to explore what it will take for us to meet our goals. Citizens’ Climate Lobby advocates know that the Energy Innovation Act is a critical step toward addressing climate change and can develop a deeper understanding of what additional steps will be necessary to meet our climate goals. 

Top Insights Typically Delivered From Simulator
  1. There is no single silver bullet, and some actions may have lower leverage than expected
  2. Many actions in many sectors are required to reach the optimal 1.5°C target; we need a “silver buckshot” approach, though carbon pricing is essential
  3. Collectively, we can do it - avoiding the worst case future is still possible
  4. There are abundant near-term co-benefits.

En-ROADS can help move conversations with community leaders, friends, legislators forward on the most effective climate solutions. It lets them think on their own terms, with their peers. New experiences and engaging tools like En-ROADS let leaders and policymakers engage with climate policies more intimately and on their own terms. When it comes down to it, showing rather than telling is an important key to advancing effective climate policy.

Global Carbon Prices to Achieve 20C

In 2017, the U.N. formed the High Level Commission to explore how global carbon prices could attain 20C and the level of prices required. The Commission was made up of some of the leading climate economists globally and was chaired by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and Sir Nicholas Stern, former World Bank Chief Economist and author of the Stern Review. To derive conclusions, they conducted a broad survey of the credible literature. CCL finds their resulting study to be authoritative and credible.

The Commission’s key conclusion included the finding that global 20C could be achieved with global carbon prices of $60-$110 in 2020 and $75-$130 in 2030 prices (we added roughly one-third to the prices quoted in the study to convert to the 2020 prices for comparison with the prices used in En-ROADS). These are very much in line with the carbon prices in the Energy Innovation Act, indicating that if the Energy Innovation Act’s baseline prices were adopted globally, the 20C target would likely be met (though we are behind as the U.S. has no carbon price yet). 

The Commission did not conclude on the prices needed beyond 2030 as the estimates of carbon price impacts on emissions becomes much less reliable after 10-15 years. They suggested the impact the prices had on emissions to that point should be evaluated to determine the future necessary price path. However, they noted that the same models they relied on to estimate 2020-30 prices suggested that global carbon price of $200 by 2050 would achieve the 20C target, within the pathway of the Energy Innovation Act’s price trajectory.

Is this authoritative message consistent with results from En-ROADS? As it turns out, the key difference in the two results is that in Commission’s models, the carbon price is applied in a far more comprehensive manner.  Specifically, the models not only applied it to all sources of GHG emissions (CO2, methane, NOx, f-gasses) from all sources (energy, agriculture, forestry), the same price is used to compensate for carbon removal.  In contrast, En-ROADS only uses the price to reduce CO2 emissions from energy.  

To show that these two views are not inconsistent, En-ROADS can use a carbon price consistent with both the High Level Commission and the Energy Innovation Act in conjunction with other reductions and removal to achieve the same 20C target.  Specifically, the carbon price reduces estimated the global temperature increase from 4.10C to 2.60C, reductions from land use and methane decrease temperatures another 0.60C, and carbon removal reduces temperatures another 0.30C, thereby easily exceeding the 20C target.

The exercise does serve to underline an important cautionary note when interpreting results from the En-ROADS model. It is a model of global climate policy levers, not US policy levers. The sources of emissions, and corresponding effectiveness of the levers, may differ significantly between the two. 

We highlight two U.S.-only models that may become more prominent, as well as their results. First, the output from one U.S.-only policy lever model, the Energy Innovation Simulator, was used to model a subset of climate policies proposed in the recent climate action plan issued by the Democrats on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crises. This model demonstrates how policies can reduce U.S. emissions 88% by 2050.  Second, as an important example specific to U.S. carbon pricing effectiveness, a forthcoming article in a leading climate journal, using a prominent model called GCAM-USA, estimated the U.S. carbon price required to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The article finds that “For a 2050 target, we find … CO2 prices of $34 to $64 per metric ton in 2025 and $77 to $124 in 2030” will achieve net-zero CO2 emissions. In other words, the Energy Innovation Act’s baseline carbon price, which would reach $55 in 2025 and $105 in 2030, is sufficient to achieve zero-net CO2 in the time frame specified. 

En-ROADS Scenarios aligned with HR763

See the En-ROADS FAQ: “How do I simulate a carbon price that increases over time, such as the carbon price structure in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act?”

Additionally, as a starting point, here is the latest simulation that CCL Research Coordinator Rick Knight has created to come as close as possible to the H.R.763 pricing schedule. It accounts for the f-gas fee and also the price ‘ratchet’ that kicks in if targets are not met after 5 years. And if we assume the carbon fee induces a more significant impact on energy efficiency and electrification in both transport and buildings than En-ROADS assumes, here is the result of that. Finally, a simulation that adds a suite of ancillary policies which can further reduce the global temperature outcome to 1.5°C is given here. For more of an understanding behind these additional policies, see this PDF write-up by CCL Research Coordinator Rick Knight.

En-ROADS Training Available Through Climate Interactive

En-ROADS is officially released to the public. If you're interested in finding out more and signing up for a training about the simulation and workshop, visit Climate Interactive's webinar training page or view any one of the seven part "Mastering En-ROADS" webinar series hosted in January 2020 to understand En-ROADS dynamics and gain confidence as workshop facilitator:

Experiment with the simulator, practice with friends, and watch or apprentice with someone who is leading workshops. This guide provides general descriptions, real-world examples, slider settings, and model structure notes on each of the 18 primary levers in En-ROADS. Moving a slider represents an action such as policy implementation, investment choices, or human behavior change. One page summary PDF.

Looking for more support?

Check out Climate Interactive's 
online forum to...

  • Connect with other facilitators in your region or sector (explore this page here).
  • Share facilitation advice and model clarifications.
  • Ask questions about the model, event planning, facilitation techniques, and beyond.
  • Offer personal insights and experiences.
Bring the workshop or game to your workplace, classroom, local community, and beyond. These experiences deliver transformative insights on the impacts of cross-sector climate actions. Both events allow participants to explore the En-ROADS model in a way that is thought-provoking, interactive and solutions-oriented. 

There are many more resources available on our Climate Interactive's website and feel free to email any further questions you may have to support@climateinteractive.org.

Becoming An En-ROADS Climate Ambassador

If you finish the Mastering En-ROADS webinar series and would like to apply to be an En-ROADS Climate Ambassador, follow these steps:

1. Run Events & Collect Feedback

All aspiring En-ROADS Climate Ambassadors should run at least two events (either the workshop or game) and collect audience feedback. Run events with any audience you choose – be it your family, co-workers, students, political representatives, or beyond. When you run an event, be sure to register it on Climate Interactive's website. This helps keep track of who is running En-ROADS events around the world. 

2. Take the En-ROADS Practice Test

Test your knowledge of En-ROADS and what you learned during the webinars with the "En-ROADS Practice Test." This is a learning tool for you to check your understanding of key model dynamics and other principles covered in the Mastering En-ROADS series.

3. Submit Your Application

Review the En-ROADS Ambassador checklist to ensure that you have completed the ambassador training program. When you have completed all the steps, you are ready to submit your application for becoming an En-ROADS Climate Ambassador. Once Climate Interactive has reviewed your application and confirmed your participation, they will be in touch via email with your En-ROADS Climate Ambassador certificate!

Length
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https://vimeo.com/showcase/6141895
Video Outline
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7/30/20 CCL Training (overall time 39:59):

  • UN High Level Commission Report on Carbon Prices (3:22)
  • Comparing En-ROADS’s path to the UN Report Results (13:32)
  • US-Only Models & Conclusions (33:39)

7/18/19 CCL Training (overall time 31:13):

  • Background & History of the En-ROADS Tool (3:11)
  • Using the Simulator (9:30)
  • Demo-ing the Simulator (12:00)
  • Modeling the Energy Innovation Act's Inputs (24:20)
Instructor(s)
  • Drew Jones, Climate Interactive
  • Jerry Hinkle
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Audio Outline
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Intro & Agenda (1:22)

Background & History of the En-ROADS Tool (3:11)

Expert Opinion & Model Assumptions (7:24)

Using the Simulator (9:30)

Demo-ing the Simulator (12:00)

Modeling the Energy Innovation Act's Inputs (24:20)

When En-ROADS Will Be Released & Training Plan (26:58) 

Instructor(s)
  • Drew Jones, Climate Interactive
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