What is Energy Islands?

Energy Islands is a group exercise that gives participants a unique opportunity to engage in international climate change negotiations and solve world problems. It is suitable for, and has been tested on, participants from schools level (key stage 4) through to energy PhD students.

The exercise is set in a fictitious world where a powerful World Council has decreed that global carbon emissions will be reduced 30% by 2030. The participants take on the role of a Committee on Climate Change on one of three main islands. Their objective is to negotiate their islands share of the global target and to propose a low-carbon transition pathway that will meet this ambition. The low-carbon transition must be achievable, which means the participants will need to demonstrate signed proof that they have agreements for technology transfer and resources to ensure that their plan can be achieved. Throughout the exercise the World Council demands updates from the islands which participants will have to prepare at very short notice.

The exercise is based on real data adapted to a fictitious world. The three islands comprise a developed, democratic society with a knowledge based economy; a rapidly developing, heavily industrial based economy ruled by command and control capitalism; and a developing, recently democratic poor island state provides food and minerals to the rest of the world.

The exercise represents a minicosm of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties. It gives participants an insight into real world trade-offs and impasses and a sense of what can be achieved under strict time pressure. It also helps develop transferable skills such as negotiation, teamwork, data assimilation, planning, leadership, cooperation, conflict resolution and presentation.

The exercise can be run in a short format, which requires 2-3 hours, or in longer formats comprising several days. The trade-off is the level of detail that the participants are able to delve into. There are excellent learning outcomes from both short and long versions.

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