February 4, 2010

Carbon Dioxide fees – the simulation workshop


Increasing emissions from industrial activity threaten climate stability and to upset ecological systems to a degree that not only puts continued industrial activity at risk, but also the very conditions for a reasonable life for citizens in both the industrialized and industrializing worlds.

These emissions are seen by many as a failure of market forces, which theoretically should provide the basis for unlimited economic growth without ecosystem depletion.

Should there not, many argue, be a market mechanism by which industrial emissions are curbed? Why are these mechanisms in their infancy? Should we not be learning more about these methods and developing them instead of relying on single solutions such as Cap and Trade?

Market mechanisms are emotional as well as logical – so some way is needed to explore the idea of emission curbing market mechanisms taking into account both the economic and emotional dimension.

What is needed is a way to experience first hand the dynamics of such a system, in an environment which stimulates experimentation and learning,


The emissions fees simulation is designed to give participants insight into

  • The dynamic relationship between market forces and emissions
  • The role of clean tech in the market
  • The market price for emission model developed by Anders Höglund


  • Government officials responsible for emissions trading
  • Politicians interested in market mechanisms for cleantech
  • Executives at cleantech corporations
  • Environmental activist organizations
  • Ethical and environmental investment company executives
  • The Media


The workshop is based on a game simulation developed by the sustainable development consultancy, A Very Beautiful Place.


This diagram shows one starting scenario “business as usual”. Ambitious reduction goals are set, emission fees are quite high, but participating firms are not reducing emissions, even though they are making profit. Profits fall as emissions fees rise. This does create some revenue to be invested in clean-tech however.

The game can be played at its simplest level as an introduction to cleantech, emissions fess and market forces. It can also be adapted so participants can explore particular issues such as:

• How does a market set pollution price mechanism work?

• Under which conditions will an emission fees scheme stimulate investment in cleantech?

• How would businesses react to a market – set price on emissions?

• Can emissions traders with large amounts of money and the intention to minimize emissions influence the cleantech market?

• What are the conditions for a market which would stimulate rapid development towards zero emissions?


Short introduction to emissions fees, the futures market and cleantech.

Orientation round – an introduction to the roles:

• The market makers

• The government emission rights scheme

• The cleantech industry

• Manufacturers

Introduction to the simulation – how the game works

Specific rounds interspersed with presentations, data analysis and reflection.

Final debriefing and main learning points.


After introductory rounds of the simulation to get to know how it works, participants are divided into interest groups, and the simulation is continued with adaptations based on the purpose for the session.


The diagram above shows how participants have succeed in investing in clean tech, bringing fees down and helping profits up.

Debriefing, and learning sessions are carried out between rounds to ensure participants get the maximum learning out of the experience.

All participants are provided with a compendium for personal follow up and further reflection, including the scores from each round and accompanying graphs.


Number of participants: 10-30

Length of simulation: 3 – 24 hours

Price: Ask for offer.

Download datasheet here (.pdf)

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