Climate Action Game Experiment (CAGE)

Rapporteur: Lynne Rudasill, Global Studies Librarian, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

On October 23, 2019, Clifford Singer, Research and Emeritus Professor of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, and of Political Science presented the latest entry in the event series – Global Migrations – sponsored by the Center for Global Studies.  His topic related to the work he and his team of researchers have been doing on the Climate Action Game Experiment (CAGE).  The research community claims that climate change has already had an impact on migration.  According to the International Organization for Migration, by the mid-1990s up to 25 million individuals had been forced to leave their homes due to climate change-related factors and this number is expected to increase to as high as 200 million by 2050 if the effects of climate change are not mitigated.[1]  The goal of the CAGE team is to develop a data-calibrated probability distribution for the actual climate change outcomes, including how climate change alters anthropogenic effects, and suggest some scenarios for mitigating these effects.

The researchers, led by Singer, captured 200 years’ worth of demographic, economic, and climate data for a large number of countries to help develop a model of how these countries might react to climate change and its resultant effects.  The goal of the research is to develop estimations for the probability of future emissions scenarios that can be applied for human development.  The policy modifications were based on assumed scenarios and interactive negotiation exercises with a view to further develop game theory in the matter.

The team grouped countries into regions that included “Green New Deal Countries”, “No New Policy Countries”, “Negotiation Block with China Countries”, and “New Policy Countries” that represent extant negotiating blocks.  They calculated welfare damage impact based on the policy options and, in addition, developed insights on possible outcomes.  These include the posit that an immediate commitment to zero emissions by 2050 would be unlikely based on economic self interest of any block alone – something else would have to be of benefit.  In addition, from a purely altruistic view, flexibility in policy and resources is necessary to deal with an already acute situation.  Professor Singer also provided scenarios for two approaches to global climate change adaptation related to the political stability of the countries in question.  The choices are between improving public health and the environment and establishing the means by which to deal with an exponential increase in human migration.

Singer also discussed the issues of the increase in ambient temperature and the increase in concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, including the factors increasing atmospheric carbon.  There appears to be no realistic, lone political solution to a reduction in the global warming that is taking place.  It will be necessary to employ some type of geoengineering to deal with the problem.  The partial solution posited in this presentation was stratospheric Sulphur injection to reduce the extent of the rise in temperature.  The problem of reducing CO2 remains to be more fully explored in relationship to the lowered temperatures.

In conclusion, a flexible approach can be more credible and more beneficial to a green new deal region, without necessarily reducing overall global economic welfare.  In the nearer term, continuing the alleviation of the impacts of poverty and more systematic, humane approaches to displaced persons can be more cost effective than promising to go all of the way to zero net CO2 equivalent emissions between 2040 and 2050.


[1] Brown, Oli (Prepared by) (2008). Migration and Climate Change, IOM Migration Research Series, No. 31, International Organization for Migration, Geneva.  Accessed at: › apps › njlite › srex › njlite_download


Slides from the presentation are available at:

A guide to resources related to this presentation is available at: Climate Action Game Experiment

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