The Dynamics of Climate Change—from the Political to the Personal


– [Janine] It is now my
pleasure to turn the webcast over to Dr. Peter Hirst,
Associate Dean, MIT Sloan Executive Education. Dr. Hirst, the floor is yours. – [Peter] Thank you very much, Janine. Hello everybody, welcome to the latest in the Innovation and Work Webinar Series from MIT Sloan School
of Management’s Office of Executive Education. At Innovation at Work
Webinar series, we bring to you speakers who teach
in our executive education programs and invite
them to take a deep dive into some of their latest research. We have nearly one and
a half thousand people who’ve registered for this webinar today all over the world, which is
a absolutely fantastic number and we’re very excited to
have with us here today, Professor John Sterman, who is going to talk with us about the
dynamics of climate change from the political to the personal. We’ll invite John to speak
for about 45 minutes. We intend to have some
questions and answers towards the end. Please feel free to ask
questions using the platform as we go through and I will
put some of those questions to John a little bit at a time. At the end of that we’ll
have a Facebook chat as well. We invite you to stick around
and continue the discussion with us on Facebook. So with that I would like to hand over to Professor John Sterman. You’re seeing his short bio now. He’s a very renowned expert in this field and John, over to you. Please take it away. – [John] Great, thank you,
Peter and welcome everybody. I’m delighted to be here with you all. So the question that I receive most often since I returned from
the Paris Climate Summit last December is whether
it is the solution to the climate crisis or yet another diplomatic disappointment. I’m going to address that
question with you today. We’re going to do it
interactively using a computer simulation model that we’ve
developed in partnership with our group here at MIT
and Climate Interactive and you all can go to
climateinteractive.org later and get all the models
and try everything out for yourself. So I will get to the
question of what the impact of Paris could be, but
before we do, let’s step back and talk about what the
real climate challenge is. It is no longer a question of the science. The science is sufficiently
settled that we know that climate change is real. It is happening now. It is largely caused by human activity. It is a serious threat to human welfare and there’s still opportunity
to make a difference on the issue. The problem is that it’s
such a difficult issue on so many dimensions that
most people don’t have the information and they
don’t have the systems thinking tools to help them understand that information. So why is that? Well I actually think
climate change presents us with a perfect storm of public confusion that leads to delay in our action. First of all on the science
side, the climate is a complex, noisy, dynamical system. It’s impossible to run experiments. There’s incredibly difficult issues here to understand how the carbon cycle works, how that drives the climate. You see some of the data plotted here. I don’t wanna spend any time on this. What we know is that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses
have been growing dramatically, that that’s the result of human activity, and that as a result,
the average temperature of our planet has been rising. And in fact we’ve
already warmed the planet at least one degree C
above preindustrial levels. That’s unprecedented in
such a short amount of time and clearly due to our
emissions of greenhouse gasses. But it’s worse than that
because this is a political and equity issue around the globe. Climate change involves long time delays. It’s a global problem. Everybody’s emissions matter. There’s enormous inequity. So the map up in the upper
right here scales the size of each nation of the world to their greenhouse gas emissions. You can see China is the
world’s largest emitter today followed by the United
States and then India is the third largest individual country. The European Union as a block
is somewhat larger than that. But look at Africa, it’s tiny. Look at South America, it’s tiny. South Asia, there are many, many countries in the world where
millions of people live, most of whom are far less
well off economically than those of us in the affluent nations or even in China and they
are currently not emitting much in the way of greenhouse gasses. But they will suffer the
most from the consequences of climate change. And it’s a problem subject to
the tragedy of the commons. So it’s global emissions that count and that means that
everybody wants somebody else to cut their emissions. And if everybody behaves
that way, the result is the emissions don’t fall. If emissions continue
to grow, as you can see in the bottom left of the
panel, the consequences are essentially irreversible
on any human time scale. So that’s a simulation
from one of my colleagues, Susan Solomon and her
colleagues here at MIT showing that if global
emissions fell to zero by the year 2100, the global
temperature would not fall over at least the next thousand years. This makes for a very difficult issue that people don’t wanna deal with. And on top of that, to
understand this issue you have to familiarize yourself
with scientific concepts, unfamiliar terminology,
strange units of measure that people don’t know,
units of measure like parts per million and parts per
billion of greenhouse gasses, gigatons of CO2 equivalent
emissions per year, watts per meter squared
of radiative forcing and for those of us in the
United States, degrees Celsius which we don’t understand. So this is an extremely tough problem. And it’s made worse by
the political dynamics. This is an issue where there
are powerful vested interests that are aggressively working
to discredit the science, confuse the public and delay action. And opinion polls show
that the way people think about the climate problem
is strongly conditioned not by science, but by
their political ideology. And you can see a few examples here of climate denier actions
trying to persuade the public that the science is uncertain
and we shouldn’t do anything. It’s absolutely clear that
this is a coordinated campaign by the vested interests seeking
to protect their revenue at the expense of the
welfare of all of humanity. So small wonder with all these problems that most people when
presented with a presentation on climate change, such as the
one you’re participating in today runs screaming from
the room, not another lecture on climate change. So but the problem that
we face is not just one of presenting the best
scientific information to the public. The problem is one of engaging the public in active learning on
a topic that is so big, so complex, seems to make it so difficult for anyone to make a
difference, and is fraught with political issues such
that minds are often not open and people are often not
even willing to engage on the issue. So what is our approach here? Well being MIT of course, our approach is to be absolutely rigorously grounded in the best available climate science and as a scientist,
I’m not willing to step one nanometer over the line. But just telling people what
the science says won’t work. In fact the social science
research on this is very clear. The research shows that
showing people research doesn’t work. So what we have done in our
project with climate interactive is to develop a suite of
interactive simulation models. One is called C-ROADS,
the Climate Rapid Overview and Decision Support System. And what this model does is replicate with high fidelity, the
behavior of the large supercomputer-based
integrated climate models that are used around the
world by for example, the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change. But we’ve designed the model
so that it runs interactively in about one second on an ordinary laptop. And it’s open source. You can get the model. You can try it out for yourself. And as you’ll see, you can
use it with your community, your peers and your
colleagues to being to explore and learn for yourselves
how the climate works and what might be done
to reduce the threat from climate change. So how is our model being used? Well, it’s being used by
a variety of policy makers around the world and
including the United States Climate Negotiating Team
out of the State Department. It’s used in China, in
Brazil, in other countries. The United Nations
Secretary General’s Office has used it. It’s used by UNEP, the United
Nations Environmental Program in their emissions gaps
studies, along with other models and other policy maker
groups have used it as well. And you see here a few of
the folks who have personally used the model. On the upper right,
Christiana Figueres, who has just stepped down as the
head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She has personally used the model. Secretary of Energy Ernie
Moniz has personally used the model. Todd Stern on the middle
right is the outgoing Special Envoy for Climate
Change for the United States, our top climate negotiator. He’s been replaced by Jonathan Pershing. All these people have
personally used the model. My colleague, Drew Jones in
the bottom right is a member of the Climate Interactive
Team and an MIT alum, who is Professor Hu Ju Koon from China who’s one of the advisors
to the Chinese government on climate, and John Kerry,
the Secretary of State has personally used the model. His comment you can see
here, “I have to tell you, “C-ROADS works, it’s
important and it’s already “getting broad dissemination, I used it.” And he really did. So it’s being used by senior policy makers and negotiators around the world, and that’s terribly important. But it’s also no where near sufficient. I began by asking whether
Paris was a success or yet another diplomatic disappointment and to preview the conclusion,
it is the best agreement we’ve ever had and
recognizing that politics is the art of the possible,
I believe we achieved in Paris, the negotiators
achieved in Paris, just about everything that was possible and maybe even a little bit more. And at the very same time,
it’s still utterly inadequate. But suppose that in
Paris a perfect agreement had been reached, an agreement sufficient to reduce the threat by lowering
global greenhouse emissions and keeping the global
average temperature no higher than two degrees C or 3.6 Fahrenheit above pre industrial levels. That’s the official target. Suppose that had been accomplished. What would happen? What would happen when that
agreement reached in Paris came back to all the key
capitals around the world, to New Delhi, to Jakarta,
to Mexico City, Brasilia, to Washington. The answer is it would be dead on arrival. There’s no where near
enough political support to pass the enabling legislation and enact the policies
that would be needed to achieve the emissions
cuts that are required to limit warming to no
more than two degrees C, 3.6 Fahrenheit. So the challenge is no longer the science. The challenge is how
to create a broad base of public support for the
actions that are needed in order to reduce the risks
of catastrophic climate change. And that’s where simulations
like C-ROADS come in. So what I’d like to do now is shift over from the slides to C-ROADS itself and we’ll see if we can do a
little interactive simulation. So what you should be seeing
now is the C-ROADS model running live. And this is the business
as usual scenario. Under business as usual,
global total carbon dioxide emissions on the left hand
graph are projected to rise. We have historical data up through today and then business as usual
projections showing an increase in global carbon dioxide
emissions up to somewhat over 100 billion tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere every
year by the year 2100. And all nations around the
world are contributing to that. At the bottom we see the
emissions from the United States in red. Then we see the emissions from
the European Union in green. On top of that from the
other developed nations, Canada, Australia, Russia and
the Former Soviet Republics, Japan, South Korea, et cetera. On top of that we see in
blue China’s emissions, the largest emitter in the world today, then India and then the
gray band is all the other developing nations of the world. So all of Africa, South
America, the Middle East, South Asia other than
India, small island states, South Pacific and so forth. The consequence of that
growth under business as usual is the steady rise in global
average surface temperatures which you can see on the right hand side and we blast through the two degree limit that was agreed in Paris
well before the halfway mark of this century, just
after 2040 and we get up to 4-1/2 degrees C or
8.3 Fahrenheit by 2100. This is potentially catastrophic. So just to show a few
of the potential impacts as there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere, which you can see in
this graph, concentration of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere steadily rising from the 400 parts per million it is today to over 900 parts per million by 2100. That leads to a steady
acidification of the ocean which threatens the base
of the global food web upon which all life,
including ours, depends. In addition, sea level rise is continuing. It’s already rising
today and it’s projected to accelerate. We stick to the accepted IPCC estimate which gives an estimated sea
level of around 1.2 meters by 2100 with many meters more after that. But the science has moved
on and one of the features of our model is, we don’t ask
you to accept our assumptions. We think we have the best
available assumptions based on the purity of science
but we don’t ask you to accept those. You’re free to try other assumptions. So for example the current
science suggests sea level rise is proceeding faster
than the IPCC expected. So I’ll just add a little
more sea level rise here to the model from accelerated melting of the global ice sheets and the result is that sea level could be up to
two meters by the year 2100 and perhaps even a little higher. So you as a user of this
model are free to try whatever assumptions you like. I’ll reset this back to our base case. And now let’s take a
look at what the impact of Paris might be. So under the base case we’re
headed for 4-1/2 degrees C. There is some uncertainty band around that but I’m not showing you today. But under no circumstance,
no matter how lucky we get, does business as usual give us any chance, any probability of hitting
the two degree limit. So let’s take a look
at what Paris might do. So I’ll load our simulation
in which we’ve added up the commitments that every nation has made under the Paris Accord. We’ve assumed that every
one of those commitments will be fully implement, but
we are not crediting countries with actions they have
not committed to take. Now committing to take an
action in Paris is not the same as actually reducing your emissions. They have to ratify the agreement, which is a process underway
now but most nations have not yet done so. They have to then implement and enact the enabling legislation and policies to actually begin to cut their emissions. We’re assuming all of that happens 100%. And you can see the impact
on the left is that global emissions begin to
flatten right around now and stay pretty flat through 2030. The Paris Agreement only
specifies emissions cuts most nations have only
specified their emissions cuts out to 2030 and they are
silent about what happens after that. Emissions continue to grow after 2030 because the developing
countries of the world including India, Africa,
South America and so forth, that’s where most of the population growth in the rest of the century will be. That’s where most of the
economic growth is gonna be and that’s where today
most of the poor folks in the world, who have no steady access or any access to electricity, to mobility, to transportation, to any
of the energy infrastructure that we take for granted, and as they get the refrigeration and the electricity and the transportation and
the travel and so forth, that they legitimately
deserve their emissions continue to grow after 2030. And as you can see on
the right, the result is 3-1/2 degrees C of
warming, even if Paris is fully implemented, and we delay the time that we cross the two-degree threashold by less than a decade. And sea level rise, very little impact. Ocean acidification, somewhat reduced but still becoming more acidic. So why is this happening
and what can we do about it? Well let’s go back to our
business as usual simulation and let’s see what we might
be able to do about this. So we have the ability here,
with a simple interface that we’ve designed for educational use to try different policies. So Peter, let’s do this interactively. Peter, in what year do you
think the United States would have to stop the growth
of its greenhouse emissions in order for it to comply
with its commitment under the Paris Accord? – [Peter] I think right now. – [John] You’re absolutely right. We’d have to cut our or stop the growth of our emissions right now. So I’ll put 2016 in
and watch the red band. Now what you see is US emissions in red, stop growing today and remain flat through the rest of the century. And as a consequence
there’s a small reduction in expected global temperatures. Now in what year Peter,
would the United States have to begin reducing
its emissions to be able to comply with its commitment
under the Paris Accord? – [Peter] That’d be right now too. – [John] Also right now. Let’s just, since it’s
already the middle of 2016, we’ll put 2017 in. And at what rate would
our emissions have to fall absolutely rate and percent per year, it’s about 2% per year. So let’s put 2% in there. And we also have forestry
and land use impacts in the model. Deforestation is not a tremendous problem in the United States,
although we do have a significant wildfire problem. But let’s say we can
reduce our forest losses by half of the potential
that scientists assess and maybe even plant some more trees maybe at 60% of the potential
that scientists assess. So that’s the impact of
the United States complying with its Paris Agreement
and then continuing to ratchet up our ambition,
cutting our emissions after 2030 all the way through the end of the century. And by the end of the century
we basically have a clean, prosperous, low carbon economy
running on renewable energy. And it makes a small difference
to global temperatures. So what about the European Union? So Julie, what would the
European Union have to do? – [Julie] They’d have
to start now (mumbles). – [John] Right, exactly
like the United States they would have to begin
their emissions cuts now to be able to comply with
their Paris commitment. And in fact that’s already happening. It’s already underway. And so their emissions
cuts would also begin essentially now and we’ll
assume the same rate, 2% per year and about the same level of ambition for their forests relative to their potential. And you can see that
also makes a difference. So the red and the green
bands, the US and EU, their emissions are steadily falling. They have carbon-free prosperous economies by the end of the century. And it has reduced expected
global temperature rise by about .3, .4 degrees C. Now what about all the
other developed countries? Colby, what about Australia
and Japan, Canada? – [Colby] Well we know
Canada depends on tar sands. Australia exports a lot of coal. And Russia exports coal, oil
and gas so they don’t really wanna cut their emissions. They really wanna just keep producing. – [John] That’s right. So they are willing to
commit to some reductions but there’s a lot of political pressure in those countries to keep
those export industries going. So in what year do you
think they might actually as a group cap the growth
of their emissions? – [Colby] Maybe 2025.
– [John] 2025. So this is your simulation. So let’s try 2025. Now watch the brown band here. That’s the other developed countries. And now you can see that total emissions have fallen somewhat. Now are they willing? Do you think they might be
willing to cut their emissions? – [Colby] Maybe. – [John] In what year do
you think that might be? – [Colby] 2030.
– [John] 2030. Great, let’s try that. And at what annual rate do you think? – [Colby] Geez, 2%. – [John] Yeah, so maybe they’ll match what the US and the EU are
willing to do but later. And there are significant
boreal forests in Canada and Russia. So maybe they’re willing to make the same kind of commitment on their
forestry as the other nations. So what you see now is the
impact of all the developed nations of the world making cuts that are somewhat consistent with
their Paris commitments and then continue after 2030 to decline until we have a nearly
carbon-free economy. So now what about China,
the world’s largest emitter? Julie, what do you think
China’s commitment is? – [Julie] Well they pledged
to cut their emissions by 2030. – [John] Great, so let’s just put 2030 in. They did in fact pledge in
Paris to cap their emissions by 2030 and as the largest
emitter, that makes quite a big difference. They did not however, commit
in Paris to any reduction in their emissions. Now this still requires
them to make progress because their economy is
going to continue to grow holding emissions constant. And they might be willing
to make the same commitment on forestry as the other nations. So that does matter. Now what about India? What about India? Peter, what do you think
India is gonna commit? – [Peter] Well I think
this is getting more of a challenge because
India’s gotta commitment to lifting its population out of poverty and that’s gonna require a lot of growth. So the one thing they did do
is commit to cut emissions intensity by a third by 2030. – [John] That’s right. But what would that mean
for actual emissions? – [Peter] Well so then because
their economy’s growing, their emissions are
still going to be rising on that time horizon. – [John] That’s exactly right. Cutting emissions
intensity of their economy, how much carbon per rupee
of GDP is certainly valuable but because their economy
is projected to grow faster than their commitment to cut intensity, their total emissions
would continue to grow and in fact continue to
grow until at least 2030 at the business as usual rate. So do you think they might be willing to do something after 2030? – [Peter] Maybe, but won’t
their emissions keep rising? – [John] Yeah, probably. So do you wanna leave
it as business as usual or do you wanna actually have
India cap their emissions at some point in this century. It’s your simulation. You can do whatever you want. – [Peter] Okay, well
let’s be very optimistic and assume that they will cap by 2060. – [John] 2060, great. Let me put in your estimate of 2060. Now that’s the black
band and you can see now that their emissions
are constant after 2060 and they might be willing
to take the same actions on forestry and perhaps
save the bengal tiger from extinction. Now what about all the
other developing countries of the world. What do you think is
gonna happen there, Julie? – [Julie] I’d say maybe by 2075. – [John] Yeah, so this is,
okay let’s try your assumption, 2075 and then hold
their emissions constant while their economy and their
population continues to grow. Which means that they’re
still making progress on energy efficiency and renewables. And now take a look at what we’ve got. What we have is a situation
where total global emissions now peak and remain essentially constant by the latter third of the century. So by around 2070 or so,
total global emissions are constant but projected
temperatures continue to rise and in fact, much like the
simulation of the Paris Accord, we don’t gain much time before we cross the two-degree threshold. And we end up at about 3-1/2
degrees Celsius of warming which is very close to what
the Paris commitment would do. And as I’ve shown you, the
result is ocean acidification continues although somewhat more slowly. Sea level rise continues
at almost the same pace as before. So what we’ve got is a situation where with your estimates, which are yours, but we can try whatever you
like, we have made a significant dent in the problem but
it’s no where near enough. And so the question is why. I mean after all, global
emissions have peaked. And take a look at this
graph which compares in red the business as usual trajectory with steady growth in global emissions to the emissions that
result from your suggestions in which growth is much lower and in fact, emissions are flat. We’ve stabilized emissions
in the last third of the century and yet
temperature keeps rising and greenhouse gas
concentrations in the atmosphere keep rising reaching over
700 parts per million by the end of the century. So why is it? Why is it that emissions are constant but concentrations and
temperature keep going up? What’s going on here? Colby, what’s going on? – [Colby] I don’t know. – [John] Okay, well let’s
figure it out together. Any suggestions? – [Julie] I think we’re
still emitting more CO2 in the atmosphere than nature can remove. – [John] Sure, that’s exactly right. So the green line in this
graph is the emissions under the current scenario. But what we need to know
is how does that compare to the rate at which
carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. So once CO2 is removed, where does it go? Well, any ideas? – [Peter] Maybe into biomass? – [John] Yeah, so as plants
grow, as biomass grows, and that’s both terrestrial
plants, trees, crops and phytoplankton in
the ocean, that removes carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere and where else might it go, any ideas? Well it dissolves into the ocean. So the ocean actually takes up quite a lot of the carbon dioxide. So let’s take a look at the removal flux as well as emissions. So in this graph what you see
in red is global emissions under your scenario, which
are rising much more slowly than before and flat from about 2060 on. And then the green line
is the flux, the flow of carbon dioxide removed
from the atmosphere taken up by biomass,
dissolving in the ocean. And what you can see is that
we are spewing carbon dioxide even with this scenario,
into the atmosphere about twice as fast as it’s being removed. So Julie, you have a bathtub
in your house, right? – [Julie] Yes. – [John] Okay, so what happens
if you fill up your tub twice as fast as the water drains out? – [Julie] It just keep
rising and overflows. – [John] Yeah, it’s gonna keep rising. Eventually it’s gonna overflow. If you don’t stop that,
you’re gonna overflow your tub and it’s gonna destroy your house. And it’s exactly the same story here. What we’re seeing is that
the global carbon bathtub is being filled up twice as
fast as it can be drained. And as a result, concentrations
of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere keep growing
and the temperature keeps rising and all the harmful impacts of climate change keep growing worse. So in order to stabilize concentrations, we have to bring that
red line of emissions down to the green line. And of course the green
line will vary based on how much CO2 is in the atmosphere. So let’s go back and see if
we can be more ambitious. So let’s start with the
other developed economies, Canada, Australia, Russia. Right now they’re lagging
behind the US and the EU. So Peter in what year
do you think we might, through a great deal of
diplomacy and horse trading, persuade them to cap and begin
to decline their emissions? – [Peter] Still want
very much am optimistic. Let’s say 2050. – [John] Sooner than 2025. You’ve already got 2025. – [Peter] Say 2015. It’s 2016, so I’ll say right now. – [John] All right so as
ambitious as the United States and the EU. And to begin a decline? – [Peter] Take another 10 years. – [John] So 2026, great. And at that same 2% rate. And that helps a little bit. But the real action is going to be in the developing world
because that’s where the largest emitters
are today and where most of the growth in emissions
is going to come. Now let me say a word about
equity before we do this. These are the countries
that are the poorest in the world and need
and legitimately deserve to bring their populations out of poverty so that they can enjoy the same benefits of the global economy that we
in the affluent nations do. And they legitimately
have that aspiration. What this means is that we
in the affluent countries are going to have to
undertake the financing and technology transfer and other forms of assistance so that
those nations can leapfrog the harmful fossil economy and go straight to a clean, renewable, low-carbon economy in the same way that Africa
leap frogged landline telephony never built that infrastructure
and went straight to mobile telephony. So let’s start with China. China has pledged to cap
their emissions in 2030. Julie, in what year might they
actually begin to decline, to see a decline in their emissions? – [Julie] Well I think they
need to cut their emissions, not just cap them. So maybe 2035? – [John] 2035, let’s try that. And you think they could
match our rate of 2% per year? – [Julie] Sure, why not. – [John] Let’s try it. We can try whatever we like. So that makes a big difference. You can see now the blue band
of Chinese emissions peaks and falls significantly
by the end of the century. Now what about India? Colby, what about India? Right now we have them
not undertaking any action until 2060 as their
economy continues to grow. But if we had enough technology
transfer and financing, what do you think might be feasible? – [Colby] How ’bout 2035? – [John] 2035, let’s try that. So that’s the black
band and for a decline? – [Colby] 2040.
– [John] 2040. Okay and 2% per year? – [Colby] Sure. – [John] Same technology improvement rate with efficiency and clean
energy that we’ve seen in the others. And now about all the
other developing countries. So they’re not doing
anything right now til 2075. Peter, what do you think
we might be able to do if there was enough financial, technical and other forms of assistance. – [Peter] I’d say the same as India, 2035. – [John] Great, let’s try that. And 2040 for a decline? – [Peter] Yeah, absolutely. – [John] Great, and 2%.
– [Peter] Makes sense. – [John] And there’s
a lot of forest, a lot of tropical forest there. Let’s see if we can
have some deforestation and aforestation there. So now notice what’s happened. The global emissions have
peaked now around the year 2030 and fall significantly,
in fact they fall below where they are today by 2100. We don’t have a perfectly
carbon-free economy by 2100 but we’re getting there. Let’s take a look at
our global emissions now compared to business as usual. We have a peak in global emissions by 2030 and a significant decline. And carbon dioxide
concentrations in the atmosphere on the right hand side are now almost flat by the latter third of the century. So let’s take a look at the carbon bathtub and see if that’s really working. And you can see that we’ve
almost balanced the tub. The red line of emissions
is almost matched by the green line of removals. Now one thing you’ll notice
here is that the green line is falling. That’s a process known as sink saturation. There’s a limit to how much
carbon biomass can take up and how much the oceans can absorb. And we’re seeing that
limit being reached here. So does that get is to two degrees? Well, let’s find out. The answer is no, but we’ve
significantly improved our chances. Now we’re stabilizing at under 2-1/2. And if we had even more
ambition, so perhaps China might peak earlier, 2025
then begin a decline earlier in 2030 and perhaps we
can increase the rate at which emissions are
reduced by another quarter of a point for everybody. Let’s see what that would do. It starts to balance the
tub earlier and make quite a large difference to our outcomes. Now none of this will
happen automatically. It’s going to take considerable hard work and negotiations, a lot of compromise and a great deal of financial
and technical assistance in order to achieve an outcome like this. But it is technically possible. And my main point in showing you all this is that we have an interactive tool that anyone can use for
themselves to try any scenarios and any assumptions they want
about how the climate works. Now let’s go back and talk
about how we use the model outside of the. I mentioned before,
it’s used by negotiators and senior policy makers around the world. But that’s not enough. It’s necessary but it’s not sufficient. So what we have done is we have created an interactive role play
experience that we call the World Climate Exercise. It’s an interactive role
play mock negotiation of the global climate negotiations held by the UNFCC, so similar to what happened in Paris last year and what’s happening in Morocco this fall. And what we do is we bring groups and we’ve done this
with every kind of group from senior policy makers,
CEOs and other senior business leaders, leaders in civil society all the way down to high school
and middle school students. We bring together. We assign them to play the
role of the negotiators for the different blocks
that you’ve just seen, the United States, the EU,
China, India, et cetera and they receive briefings,
confidential briefing materials that tell them what they’re
negotiating position is and gives them some data they can use in their negotiations
with the other parties. We normally assign people
to play out of their roles. So for example here’s some
photos from the World Climate session that we ran in Paris
at the Climate Conference. It was an open enrollment
group so we had people of all ages and from
all parts of the world. When we started out I said, who’s here from the European Union, hands went up. I said great, today you’re China. Who’s here from China? Great, today you’re the
United States and so forth. So people were playing out
of their normal affiliations. And they have to negotiate face to face with the other people and come up with their commitment, their intended nationally-determined
commitment to reduce emissions. And then we run them
through the simulation live. So what is it really like? Well, I’m gonna show you a little video of what it’s like to play the game. And this is work that was
done by our colleague, Professor Juliette Rooney
Varga, who’s a member of our team. And she had the opportunity to
run the World Climate Seminar at the high school here in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge Rindge and Latin. And being a scientist,
what she did is she ran a control treatment and
an experimental treatment. The control treatment
was a standard lecture as is given all the time to students and policy makers around the world. And what you’re going to
see is a short video clip of how the students reacted. Can we push out clip one please? – [Juliette] We’ve introduced
some pretty complex topics and that this model is able
to take into consideration a lot of these aspects that were related to climate change. So what you see here is. – [John] And as you can
see, there’s no learning going on in the presence
of a standard lecture, even a good lecture. Now, what happened when
the students were given the opportunity to play the roles of the negotiators and
enact the diplomatic process for themselves. So let’s push out clip two. Watch the students negotiate. (students talking at same time) – We do not have anything
(mumbles) billion dollars to give you another hundred. And we give you that much
money, half the people in our life would die. (students talking at the same time) Where’s the money coming from? We’re already bankrupt. – It’s coming from the other countries. Who makes all your crap? The other countries. If they die, you got (mumbles). – So you’re gonna supply us
with free food and everything? – No I’m serious. – No, but we buy it from you. We don’t get it for free. (students all talking at once) Ah a shower. – Forget about China. – China, I don’t care about China. China, I don’t care. You’re getting 25, you’re getting. – [John] As you can see
there’s a dramatic change in the energy level and
in fact they are learning. So we’ve gathered data
through pretest, post test questionnaires with a wide range of groups who have played this
simulation all over the world and the data show that
people are learning more from this exercise about the science. They’re learning more about
the political situation. They are more willing to take action in their personal life to cut
their own carbon footprint. They’re more willing
to talk to other people about the climate change challenge and in every way, people
are learning more, being more motivated to take action. So it really does work. So how is this used? Well, it’s being used all over the world. It’s freely available and
this slide is actually out of date. As of this week, there have been events in 57 countries and almost
19,000 people have participated as of where we stand today
in the middle of July. This is all freely available
and people like yourselves can download all the
information that you need, not only to use it but to
learn how to facilitate it, and I would encourage you to go to the climateinteractive.org site where you can get all
the information you need, all the briefing materials,
the model, videos of people running it,
instructors materials and so forth. Take it out to your
community and help build the political support. And the key thing about this
is we don’t tell anybody what they should propose
for emissions reductions. They choose, as you saw in
the demonstration earlier. So we’re not pushing any
particular set of policies. We’re not pushing any
particular allocation of emissions reductions around the world. And in fact, the discussion gets quite hot as the different groups
debate who should pay, who should cut, how would this work and how can it be done in the real world. So we’re going to switch over to questions in just a minute. But the question always
comes up after the role play or at this point in the demonstration, well we could cut our emissions. It is technically possible. We have the technology today, ready to go off the shelf. Wind does getting cheaper and cheaper. Solar is getting cheaper and cheaper. It’s growing very fast around the world. So we have the technology
today for efficiency, for clean power that doesn’t
produce carbon emissions but people don’t think it’s affordable. So we don’t have time to
go into the details here, but let me give two very fast examples of how it’s affordable. This is the new Sloan School
of Management Building where we are right now speaking to you. This building was
occupied in the year 2010. It’s a LEED gold building
and is quite a large office and classroom building. And the question is, how
much more did it cost to build it so that it’s
sustainable and green compared to the standard
co-compliant building that we could have built. And we have lots of
insulation in the building. We’ve got daylight
controls, occupancy sensors to control the lighting. We’ve got radiant floor
heating and cooling in the building. We’ve done quite a lot to
make the building efficient. And the question is, how
much more did it cost. Well take a second and just ask yourself how much more do you think
the capital costs were. Write it down. Write it down on a piece of paper. Did it cost less to make
it a green building, about the same, up to
10% more, 10 to 20% more, 20 to 50 or even 50% more or larger. Take a second and write down your answer. Now let’s ask what most people say. So when I survey my
students and executives who come here, the answer
that most of them give is around 20% more. So what’s the right answer? Well the right answer is we saved money because it uses so much less energy. We spent more on the windows. We spent more on the
insulation and so forth but we save money on the air
handling, the HVAC system, the electrical infrastructure,
and as a result the building itself is
only 1.6% more expensive to build and it’s actually
even cheaper than that because with so much less energy use, it meant MIT didn’t have to
expand its chiller capacity or steam generation capacity. And that’s worth another $2 million. And so the net capital
costs are only a quarter of a percent more. And the net present value,
the net present value of the building is positive $9.7 million. So not only is it technically possible to cut our carbon emissions dramatically, but we can actually
make money in many cases by doing it. At this point, what I’d
like to do is bring the formal session to a close so
that we can take questions and we hope that you’ll
submit any questions that you have for us, thank you. – [Peter] Sure, thanks very much, John. This is a, I think very
fascinating for everyone and quite alarming for us all as well. And we’ve had some
questions as you were going through the simulation pointing out that perhaps we were
being quite optimistic in terms of the behaviors and responses and wondering about your view of that is. You said it was technically feasible to meet these kinds of goals. – [John] Yeah, absolutely. There’s no question that it’s
technically feasible today to produce the energy that we need without carbon emissions. Just to give another example,
my wife and I recently completed a deep energy
retrofit on our house and we took it from a
rather inefficient structure that was built in 1928
to a better than zero net energy home that now, after
one year of occupancy data since the project was
completed, we produced 54% more energy than we
used through a combination of the solar panels and
extensive insulation and high efficiency appliances. And it’s more comfortable and we have, we’re not freezing in the dark. It’s actually more comfortable
than it was before. So we have a negative carbon
footprint for our home. This is something that’s easily doable in the developed countries
and with sufficient technology transfer,
it’s doable everywhere in the world. In fact it’s perhaps easier
elsewhere in the world because they aren’t
locked in to the existing carbon infrastructure in
many parts of the world to the extent that we are here. So the question is, is
it politically possible and there I think the answer is yes, it is if there’s a lot of
hard work and engagement by people around the
world in every country. There are plenty of successful examples of grassroots activists who have succeeded in shutting down coal plants,
in promoting green energy. This is something that can happen just as the civil rights
movement, the movement to abolish slavery in
the 1700s, the movement to end apartheid and others were able to bring about social and political change that at the time nobody
thought was possible. These things have happened
and we can do them again. But it requires that
everybody become active. Cutting your own carbon
footprint is essentially. You have to walk your talk. But it’s not enough. We have to have a collective
grassroots political movement in order to create the political pressure for our leaders to make the
emissions cuts that we need. – [Peter] Is that really
the nut of the problem? It seems like there are two
effects that we’re seeing in some of the questions
that you are asking about. One is for those that
believing both the science and the consequences
and the human activity is a driver here, that it’s still hard for it to feel relevant in our daily lives and to make those kind of changes. And that’s before you
even get to the segment of people who may still
believe that there is no human connection here. How does this kind of work
impact those two aspects of this? – [John] This really is
the heart of the matter. You put your finger exactly on it. And there’s a couple
things that are important for people to understand. First there’s no scientific
data about the reality of human-caused climate change. And there is an ongoing
coordinated campaign by the vested interests to confuse people and undermine that science. So it is a political battle. But in addition, it’s not
a matter of sacrifice. In fact as I have cut my own
personal carbon footprint and I’ve been a bicycle
commuter essentially my whole career here at MIT. We compost all our food
and I’ve just described we now have a better than
zero net energy home. Becoming more sustainable is
not a matter of sacrifice. In fact it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s really quite exciting. And as people do more and more of this, it will spread in a viral social way. Look at the spread at the
World Climate role play simulation that we just discussed. 19,000 people in just
the last couple years around the world have
done this in countries literally from A to Z,
Argentina to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between. This is not because people are scared as much as they find
that this is important. They find that it’s
enlightening, it’s empowering and they are willing and able to go out and tell other people and
engage them in the exercise. And it’s the same thing
when you take action in your own community. So I’m an optimist on this. It’s definitely an
extraordinarily difficult issue. But I believe we can do it. We’ve done harder things before. We ended slavery. We brought a peaceful end to
apartheid in South Africa. Nobody thought this was
possible and yet it happened. We can do it. – [Peter] So a lot of work
and your history academically is in the field of systems
dynamics and promoting the concept of systems
thinking both as a tool for business in our case, but
in other respects as well. How big is the challenge that
actually we’re not really as human beings configured
and we’re not educated to understand the systemic effects of how systems work. Is this a real difficulty
that we need to be addressing? – [John] So I think you
can make an argument that people didn’t evolve naturally to be systems thinkers. But I don’t find that to be productive. I don’t find that to be helpful. In my experience as a teacher,
first of all I don’t think I can teach anybody anything. At best what I can do is
try to create an environment in which people can learn for themselves. And that’s why we developed
the role play simulation that you’ve just seen,
so that people can learn for themselves, try their own assumptions, try their own beliefs. See what would happen if and do that in a group setting where
they can talk through all the issues that come up. I wanna step back. I wanna become less of
the sage on the stage and more of the guide
on the side and yells and kick things we said about education. So can people learn to be
better systems thinkers? I think the answer is absolutely yes. And I think people want to. I think people have the capability. I think everybody can
improve their abilities when they have the opportunity
to learn for themselves. People want to do well. They want to understand and
they want to make a difference. – [Peter] So returning
to this new question of what you would hope people will do and how we respond to
this kind of information and the insights that we get
from simulations like this, I heard you say earlier
something about you all need to walk the talk. But what’s the balance? Is there a balance between
the decisions we’re making in our personal lives and
decisions that we’re making in our work and business lives that affect how our organizations
or how we as individuals are part of the problem or
part of the solution here. You mentioned for example,
this building here at the Sloan School
and that was an example of the organizational response. Do we have to do it across the board or should we be focusing somewhere? – [John] Oh, I think we have
to do it across the board. But it’s the old story of think globally and act locally. So we need a global understanding
of what the challenge is and tools like C-ROADS
and our other models and the World Climate
exercise can help people gain that global
perspective and understand the political difficulties
that are entailed. And then we have to act where we are, where we can make a difference personally. And on all fronts. Cut your own personal carbon footprint. Tell everybody that it was a lot of fun because I think it will be. It certainly has been for us at MIT and in my own personal life. And then get out there
and give other folks, create opportunities for other folks to learn some of these
things for themselves. So yeah, I mean we are
embedded in organizations and in an economy that through
nobody’s explicit choice is undermining the future
and putting our children and grandchildren and
all children at risk. And I don’t know very many
people who think that’s okay. When I talk to people in
organizations at all levels and CEOs down to the frontline workers, they know that what they often do in their daily organizational
life is undermining the future and they don’t like it. They don’t wanna be in that position. People really would like
to align what they do in their professional
life and in their career with what they most deeply care about. And there’s a tremendous
hunger out there to do that. – [Peter] What do you say to the pessimist who look at models like this and say even though there’s an optimistic scenario that you described, it
really, realistically it’s already too late
and so what’s the point of trying to bolt the
door now that the horses, shut the door now that the horses bolted. – [John] So we don’t
want to try to predict. We wanna change the future. There’s an old joke that
says when you’re falling out of an airplane it’s
better to have a parachute than an altimeter. I’m not interested in predicting
what’s going to happen. I’m interested in creating
the future that we all want. So I’m an optimist that we can do that. – [Peter] Great, well thanks very much Professor John Sterman. And we’re just about out of
time for this live component to the webinar. We’re just gonna show you some information about the programs that John
Sterman teachers in here at MIT Sloan Executive Education. It’ll also link to the
climateinteractive.org website and these slides will be available later and some further reading
that John has recommended. But now it remains for me
to thank John once again for this love component to the webinar and to move us across to
the Facebook discussion. So if Janine, you’d be
kind enough to push out the Facebook link to our
audience, we’ll move over to that medium. Thank you very much John,
and we’ll see you all on Facebook we hope. – [Janine] And thank you
to all our participants for joining us today. In a brief moment, the link
to the Facebook discussion with Professor Sterman will
appear again on your screen. We hope you found this
webcast informative. This concludes our program
and you may now disconnect. Everyone have a good day.

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