The Climate Cooperation Game

Topic Pages

See the actual game.

Instructions for players.

Strategy for players.


Pre-Copenhagen diagnosis from Nature  (PDF)

The Art of Strategy, Dixit and Nalebuff, Chp. 3 and 9. $12.21.

"Pricing Is a Better Climate Commitment," Cramton & Stoft, Dec. 2009, 4 pp. (economist's op-ed) abstract + PDF.>

Copenhagen: What Went Wrong & How to Rethink Cooperation

The Climate Cooperation (CC) Game, is a 101-year simulation of climate change and climate policy. Six to 10 players, each representing a region, e.g., China, the EU, etc., can test their negotiating strategies to save the world.

The real-world negotiation process is multi-player "public goods" game. But few at Copenhagen understood this, and fewer stil had thought through the implications. So of course, the outcome was just as predicted for 50 years by every game theory book -- a lack of cooperation.

The CC Game, takes away some of Kyoto's worst incentives (e.g. the CDM), but still presents the standard challenge. Played slowly, it gives the players time to find better negotiating strategies than the Copenhagen countries employed. And to see why strategy is needed.

How it's Played

The players adjust their region's policy on each of 101 turns. There are two policy levers, (1) their region's carbon price, and (2) their region's contribution to a Green Fund.

The Green Fund is paid out to a region in proportion to how much less it emits than it would emit at the global per-capita average emission rate. India will benefit, and will benefit more if it emits less.

The most successful outcome depends on making a climate agreement that induces cooperative behavior -- high carbon prices in all countries. But every country can do better for itself by letting the others cooperate and setting its own carbon price very low.

Experiments.  This is a multi-player "Prisoners' Dilemma" game, a.k.a. a Public Goods game. It is also a powerful climate-policy simulation tool that the players can use to evaluate possible policies and strategies. Hopefully this realistic climate game will convince players that some of the principles discovered with simplistic games really do make sense.