The Climate Game: “Good luck. The planet is counting on you”

The Climate Game – Can you reach net zero by 2050? is the Financial Times’ format that asks players to save the world from the worst effects of climate change through an innovative gamified setup. It is open to everyone, for free. What if world leaders appoint you the global minister for future generations to make the decisions squabbling nations have dodged for decades?

You need to keep global warming to 1.5°C by cutting energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 […] You must also deal with other greenhouse gases, and protect people and nature, for the planet to remain habitable”.

The first claim of this game clarifies the main goals, providing all the potentially needed definitions. Also, Financial Times makes clear the accountability of this format, which is based on published scientific research and bespoken by the International Energy Agency[1].

Basically, the game is about cutting emissions by making decisions: players experience the impacts of different trade-offs as they progress through multiple-choice questions, getting conscious about the impact of each on global GHGs.

Big deals in dystopian-utopian blended scenarios. The game focuses on the four sectors responsible for the biggest energy-related carbon dioxide emissions: electricity, transports, buildings, and industry.

First, players are asked to choose an adviser among an activist, an entrepreneur, a businessman, and a politician. Counting on an effort points-based budget, the user (so called “minister”) has to spend on saving the planet and adapting to a hotter world. There are three rounds, covering the years from 2022 to 2050: all the participants have the chance to use their sweeping global powers to cut emissions to zero and keep temperatures below 1.5°C.Answers have costs: smart investments earn the player points back, otherwise…

At the end, when players reach 2050, they receive a tailored temperature projection for the year 2100, based on the reflection of the decisions they have made so far. How close are they to net zero and what changes to the planet have taken place under their ministries?

Sam Joiner, visual stories editor at the Financial Times, states that “The Climate Game helps simplify a critical topic, and we hope it appeals to younger and non-specialist audiences through utilizing a fun, visual format”. For sure, communication through gamification puts people in control as protagonists, boosted with an urgent thirst for knowledge.

An interesting way of transmitting a message with a linguistic, visual, and targeted strategy. There is a mission, there is a wish: “Good luck. The planet is counting on you”.

© Illustration by Johan Papin

[1] These climate outcomes were calculated using the IEA’s World Energy Model (WEM) and Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) model coupled with MAGICC v7+ climate model.