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War Game: Clout and Climate Change

Jul 28 – 30, 2008

About the Wargame


The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and a consortium of ten partner organizations hosted an international “war game” from July 28, 2008 through July 30, 2008.

The future consequences of global climate change remain unclear, but the economic, social, political, and military risks for all nations have the potential to be catastrophic. This exercise used war gaming and scenario planning techniques to assess the potential threats and responses to global climate change. Such techniques have proven to be useful to militaries and businesses all over the world in understanding and dealing with complex and uncertain contingencies.

The Clout & Climate Change war game brought together high-level scientists, national security strategists, former policymakers, former military officers, environmentalists, and private sector representatives from the United States, Europe, Asia, and South Asia to work together to develop strategies for dealing with the national security consequences of global climate change. The exercise focuses on four of the world’s major economies: the United States, the European Union, China, and India.


Delegates to Clout & Climate Change played on one of five teams: the United States, the EU, China, India, and an international team that includes key stakeholders from the rest of the world, such as Japan, Russia, and Brazil. Each team reacted to simulations and projections for the years 2015 and 2050, based on extensive research and sophisticated climate modeling.

The goal of this war game was and still is to explore new possibilities for preventing and adapting to global climate change. CNAS will publish a report on the findings in an effort to help guide the next American president in crafting a new U.S. climate change policy.
ABC News filmed throughout the game as part of a special documentary and website project exploring what the future world could look like with the projected effects of climate change. Visit the ABC News Website.
After two and a half days of discussions and negotiations, the teams in the game (China, EU, India, US) reached a Framework Agreement on Managing Long-Term Climate Change, which they agreed to submit to other nations for consideration. Delegates were passing notes and whispering in each other’s years up to the very last moment.  
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Secretary General Team's Presentations
The Honorable John Podesta played the role of the UN Secretary General for the Clout & Climate Change wargame. To set the scene for game play, he delivered a speech calling on the nations convened to reach a Framework Agreement on Managing Long-Term Climate Change. He was aided in conveying the security and environmental threats the world faced with the potential effects of climate change by Michèle Flournoy, who acted as an Assistant Secretary General and delivered a threat assessment; Dr. Jay Gulledge, who portrayed the Science Advisor to the Secretary General and delivered environmental and climate projections; and Sharon Burke, who also acted as an Assistant Secretary General. The Secretary General’s team remained on hand for the duration of the game to answer questions and to assess and guide negotiations.
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Supplemental Research
In the course of designing the wargame and after conducting a test game several weeks in advance of the event, CNAS game designers determined that due to current events and stemming from their individual expertise, players might request additional background information on subjects such as civilian nuclear expansion and geoengineering. This supplemental research was on hand to brief game managers, facilitators, and rapporteurs, and for game management to provide to teams (albeit only upon request) during game play.
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