Our Research on Climate Simulations

The CCI seeks to understand how simulation-based tools impact how people learn and feel about climate change causes, impacts, and solutions. Our research focuses on simulations that combine engaging role-plays and interactive computer models, C-ROADS and En-ROADS, developed with Climate Interactive.

What We’ve Found

Across a diverse set of participants, World Climate (role play with the C-ROADS simulator) was associated with statistically significant gains in three areas: (i) knowledge of climate change causes, dynamics, and impacts; (ii) affective engagement including greater feelings of urgency and hope; and (iii) a desire to learn and do more about climate change. Our latest research on World Climate shows that the simulation reduces polarization and motivates climate action across political divides. Similar to World Climate impacts, initial evaluation results of the Climate Action Simulation (with En-ROADS) indicate that the simulation offers an engaging experience that delivers gains in knowledge about the climate and energy systems, while also opening affective and social learning pathways.

In short, the simulations serve as communication and decision support tools that enable people to learn and feel for themselves, which together have the potential to foster productive, solutions-oriented discussions and motivate climate action informed by science.

explore the Publications

Hensel, M., Bryan, J., McCarthy, C., McNeal, K., Norfles, N., Rath, K., & Rooney-Varga, J. N. (Submitted). Participatory Approaches Enhance a Sense of Urgency and Collective Efficacy About Climate Change: Evidence From World Climate Post-Simulation Interviews

Rooney-Varga, J. N., Sterman, J. D., Fracassi, E., Franck, T., Kapmeier, F., Kurker, V., Johnston, E., Jones, A. P., & Rath, K. (2018). Combining role-play with interactive simulation to motivate informed climate action: Evidence from the World Climate simulation. PLoS ONE, 13(8).

Rooney-Varga, J. N., Kapmeier, F., Sterman, J. D., Jones, A., Putko, M., & Rath, K. (2020). The Climate Action Simulation. Simulation & Gaming, 51(2), 114-140.

Rooney-Varga, J. N., Hensel, M., McCarthy, C., McNeal, K., Norfles, N., Rath, K., et al. (2021). Building consensus for ambitious climate action through the World Climate simulation. Earth’s Future, 9, e2021EF002283.

Sterman, J., Franck, T., Fiddaman, T., Jones, A. , McCauley, S., Rice, P., Sawin, E., Siegel, L., & Rooney-Varga, J. N. (2015). World Climate: A role-play simulation of climate negotiations. Simulation & Gaming, 46(3-4), 348-382.