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Climate Change in Copenhagen, 2009

by David E. Henderson

Can the world prevent a climate disaster?

Climate Change in Copenhagen, 2009 covers the negotiations at the Conference of Parties 15 meeting that was attended by a large number of national leaders. The game also includes representatives of non-government organizations and the press. Students wrestle with the need to work within conflicting limits set by their governments.

This game is part of Environmental Science and International Politics, which features two Reacting games in one volume, immersing students in the complex process of negotiating international treaties to control environmental pollution. The issues are similar in all the modules; environmental justice, national sovereignty, and the inherent uncertainty of the costs and benefits of pollution control. Students also must understand the basic science of each problem and possible solutions.



Economics and Economic History; History of Science and Technology; International Relations; Philosophy; Political Science and Government; STEM; Environmental Justice

21st Century; Contemporary History

In a Few Words
Environmental justice: wealthy vs. developing countries


Themes and Issues  

Class, Colonialism

Player Interactions 
Factional, Competitive, Coalition-Building

Sample Class Titles
FY Seminar, Non-Majors Science, Environmental Science

Published Level 5 game (what's that mean?

Notable Roles

Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark; John Sauven, Director of Greenpeace International; Rajenda Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC

Divided Spaces, Differentiated Voting

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
This game is structured and minimally demanding on the instructor. The second game session requires a lot of small group faction negotiations and less formal speeches. It is usually necessary to impose a deadline for completion of the game or students will go on forever.

Primary Source Highlights
GB contains scientific background. IPCC Reports online. Documents from Center for the Study of CO2 and Climate online.

Using the Game

Class Time  
For this game, 2 to 3 setup sessions and 2 to 3 game sessions are recommended. Debriefing can be extended for more detailed discussion.

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Climate Change in Copenhagen may pair well with:

You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include traditional paper/research/thesis-driven writing, science writing, and journalism. Not all roles are required to give formal speeches.

Class Size and Scalability
This game is recommended for classes with 12-31 students. 


Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  Basic game materials (Gamebook, Role Sheets, Instructor's Manual, and other materials) are available to any instructor through the publisher. 


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content. The Environmental Science and International Politics Gamebook is published by Reacting Consortium Press. 

PAPERBACK ISBN: 978-1-4696-4029-7

EBOOK ISBN: 978-1-4696-4030-3
Available wherever books are sold.

Role Sheets and Add'l Materials

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives. 

.zip file of .pdf and .docx files.

.zip file of .pdf, .docx, and .pptx files.

Instructor's Manual

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.  

VERSION 5.6. Updated 2011. .docx file.

Additional Resources 

Digital Assets

This includes digital Zoom backgrounds for your students, as well as a relevant PowerPoint.

Webinar Video: Use Climate Change Online

This includes the video recording of the webinar, as well as several supplemental videos.


David E. Henderson


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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