Take the California Carbon Challenge!

Next10, which develops online tools that help people gain a deeper understanding of complex issues, has released the California Carbon Challenge.

The idea is to simulate the tough choices policymakers face in how to address climate change. It allows people to choose strategies to cut the state’s carbon emissions through an interactive game and get feedback on their choices.

340,000 people used their simulator in the California Budget Challenge, which allows people to create a budget for the state. And 100,000 people have done the same on the federal level using the newer Federal Budget Challenge.

Now, they are extending those concepts to the complex problem of addressing climate change. How should the state meet its goal of getting carbon emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020?

"We created the California Carbon Challenge to show what the challenges and opportunities for reducing emissions are, and to also engage and inform people who are trying to better understand what these policies do," says Noel Perry, Founder of Next10. 

Users are presented with dozens of strategies to get emissions down, such as developing transit-oriented communities, pay-as-you-drive insurance and boosting energy efficiency in buildings. As you make choices, an online meter shows you their impact – tons of carbon reduced and their costs or savings. 

There are eight categories of policy options: vehicle technologies, driving costs, mass transit, alternatives to driving, green buildings, smart growth, government operations, and energy users and producers. Some of the choices – including time of day electricity pricing, or the requirement that state and local agencies use only Zero Emission Vehicles or plug-in hybrids – are not among the state policies being implemented at this time. Other options, like implementing a carbon trading market, are already underway in California.

Users get pro and con arguments for each policy choice, as well as information about who – individuals, businesses, or government – would bear the possible costs or benefits. Users can leave comments about their choices, find out what percentage of other site visitors chose the same options, and share their decisions on social media and with policymakers. 

"The Carbon Challenge presents policy choices and their impacts specific to the state of California. However, we hope this resource can be a learning tool for people in other states and countries who are considering policies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions," says Perry.

Here is the website:

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