On Tuesday 26 June 2018, the 54th Cairo Climate Talks were held at Tahrir Lounge at Goethe in Downtown Cairo under the title of Cairo Climate Game Night.
In his opening remarks, Simon Brombeiss, Head of the Cultural and Scientific Section at the German Embassy, explained that the innovative gaming approach was chosen because younger generations are among the most important players in the climate change conversation and will be the most affected in years to come. He also underlined the power of awareness raising campaigns and climate activities by referring to a recent climate action of the NGO Greenpeace, in which one of the biggest squares of Berlin were temporarily dyed in yellow paint in order to suggest the move away from fossil energy such as coal to renewables such as solar energy.
Moderated by “Boards Kingdom”, an Egyptian start-up working on Gamification and developing educational games for children and adults, the attendees engaged in a game called “Save the Planet”. During the role-playing game, participants represented different countries and aimed at generating the largest amount of energy while keeping the general overall emissions count below a certain level. The different country teams could choose to invest in power plants either powered by renewable energy sources or by fossil fuels. These investments reflected on the country’s score as to their emissions and energy.
The game simulated real life events, including the creation of a council comprised from representatives from the countries, secret deals, sudden events and most importantly, dangerous levels of emission. After the activity, the participants reflected on the game. The participants felt confused in the early stages of the game, unsure of which rules to apply, similar to countries in the beginning of their development process and being able to choose either fossil or fossil-free ways of industrialization. After the first round, teams were trying to balance between solar and fossil energy. But when they realized they were falling back, they started trying to increase fossil over solar energy to keep up with the rest of the teams. By the middle of the game the teams lost sight of the emissions goal and were mainly focused on energy production. However, by the end of the game, the teams had to take drastic measures to “offset” their emissions. The teams’ behaviors matched real-life climate negotiations quite well, whereas some countries push more intensely for policy change than others. Yet unfortunately those decisions are not always solely based on the collective good. Furthermore, the teams agreed that a scientific opinion was essential to put disputes to rest. Finally, the players agreed on the importance of lobbying as well as awareness campaigns to build a strong movement backing up the climate cause.
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