COP26 Simulation Exercise

By Emily Peace ~ Upper Sixth Student

On Monday, November 1st, myself and other students studying Geography and/or Politics were lucky enough to have the opportunity to take part in a simulation of the COP-26 summit happening in Glasgow; this simulation took place in the Council Chambers in Godalming. Provided with access to the same data and information that was presented to the World Leaders and advisors we managed to successfully debate and negotiate with each other to get to a reduction in global warming of 2ºC.

Dr David Faraday chaired the simulation, and along with Paul Follows the leader of Godalming Council, and Green Party Councillor Steve Williams, provided us with a broad understanding and basis of knowledge which aided us in our debates. As students, we were split into groups representing different sectors, such as the Climate Justice Hawks, Farming and Agriculture, and the Government, amongst others. In our groups we structured arguments based on what we believed would have the greatest success in reducing the extent of global warming, attempting to both meet our individual group goals as well as taking into consideration the aims of the other sectors. As we progressed and understood how the process worked more, these discussions increased in intensity and ultimately resulted in sectors working together in order to reach a compromise that would benefit us all. Our enthusiasm on the topic definitely showed through in our discussions as we were very passionate about the ideas we proposed!

After an opening speech from the UN Secretary, we began our proposals using the programme En-ROADS to help us visualise the impacts of our decisions. If we continue on the path we are on today, the global suspected temperature increase by 2100 is +3.6ºC; nations have committed to a 1.5ºC limit as scientists say that limiting warming to this should prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change from happening. If the pledges and targets made at climate summits such as COP-26 were actually met, this proposed growth would be reduced by around 1ºC to an increase of +2.7ºC. 

En-ROADS enabled us to propose our ideas and see them presented on a graph representing CO2 emissions and removals over time, and our reduction of 2ºC shows the successes of our discussions. However, it also showed us how empty promises and targets are made which would be impossible for countries to meet over short periods of time, as well as how easy it would be for governments to become corrupt by giving huge quantities of money to sectors! This was seen in our simulation after the World Government sector gave money to the renewable energy sector to complete research into a new zero-carbon technique as a way of providing cheap electricity without emitting greenhouse gases, whilst also giving a large sum to the industry sector in order for them to electrify their buildings and processes! Whilst in the real world this would be majorly unrealistic, we learnt that whilst incentivising the electrification of industries does lead to a slight reduction in global warming, it was not as large as we were expecting. It was a common theme for us to see that our suggestions didn’t make as much of a difference as we thought they would, and how instead a combination of different reductions, taxes and incentivisation’s across a range of areas was more impactful. However, we also saw this happening the other way round, with things like improving the insulation of social housing and businesses making a bigger than expected difference. This is definitely something we considered more as we entered the second and third rounds of proposals, suggesting smaller changes that could be more easily met across these areas, which included Energy Supply, Transport, Land and Industry Emissions, Carbon Removal, and Growth.

The simulation was an amazing insight into the sorts of decisions that World Leaders and advisors make at summits such as COP-26 and gave us a deeper understanding of the difficulties of reducing global warming, as well as emphasising the importance of meeting the promises and targets made. The simulation further proved how it is vital that we act quickly in order to reduce the impacts of human activity on the world. I know that myself and my fellow students thoroughly enjoyed the event, and it is a topic that we have continued discussing with other members of the college even now!

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