Climate Change Negotiation Role-Play:

Bepo Dam Plan, TheManaging Climate Risk in Energy Sector Planning

Todd Schenk under the supervision of David Fairman, David Plumb, Lawrence Susskind, Philip Angell, and Kelly Levin
Eight-party negotiation (with option for a ninth person facilitator) regarding climate change issues in a situation loosely based on the situation in Ghana.

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The Bepo Dam Plan exercise presents the kinds of challenges decision makers are expected to face in the near future in light of climate change based on trends already seen, predictions of what may come and plans already under development. This exercise is loosely based on the situation in Ghana, and was first run there. Ghana depends on hydroelectricity for much of its power supply and climate change poses a very real threat.  Two-dozen people were interviewed in the preparation of this exercise and an extensive literature review was conducted. The details have, however, been modified and this scenario is placed in the fictitious country of Suna. Ultimately, the setting is not so important – while other countries will not face the exact same challenges, planning for a changing climate is increasingly recognized as necessary around the world and this exercise can help decision makers to think about how to make choices in the face of substantial uncertainty. Many countries are, in fact, facing similar questions around hydroelectric dams, but the questions raised are generalizable to situations beyond this particular issue.

This exercise will help participants to think about:

  • How to deal with data that could have serious implications but are highly uncertain and dynamic;
  • How and at what stage climate change should be factored into planning and decision-making;
  • How to consider risk in decision-making; and
  • How different stakeholders can work together to make these challenging decisions.


SCENARIO:

The country of Suna is planning to construct a new dam – called the Bepo – to meet its rapidly growing electricity needs and current supply deficit. Suna has traditionally depended upon hydroelectricity and sees it as an inexpensive way to produce electricity that is not vulnerable to spikes in global fuel prices. The proposed site for the Bepo is one of the last large unexploited opportunities for hydro in Suna, with an expected installed capacity of 425 megawatts. The projected cost amortized out over the life of the project is only 7.9 cents per kWh, making it relatively inexpensive.

Unfortunately, hydroelectricity is starting to seem less certain than it has been in the past. The Esono Basin, in which two existing dams are located and the Bepo is proposed, has experienced significant variations in average seasonal and annual flow in recent years. The reason for these hydrologic changes is hotly contested – some blame changes in land and water use upstream while others point to the effects of climatic change – but in either case, a recently released report suggests that things may get worse. The report acknowledges that there is growing uncertainty and presents three scenarios in light of continued climate change: A ‘rainy season’ scenario in which precipitation is concentrated in an intense wet season while the rest of the year is quite dry; a ‘desert’ scenario in which there is much less precipitation overall; and a ‘little change’ scenario in which the precipitation patterns remain much as they have traditionally.

The question is: What should the planners and decision-makers involved in advancing or permitting the Bepo project do in light of this new information? The growing need for electricity is significant, but, if either the ‘rainy season’ or (particularly) the ‘desert’ scenario were to play out, it would have serious negative impacts. Doing nothing is not an option, but a useless ‘white elephant’ of a dam would represent a major waste of precious resources and could leave the country without electricity. As noted previously, participants are challenged to think about how to deal with these significant but highly uncertain and dynamic forecasts; to consider how climate change can and should be factored into decision making; how to accommodate or live with risk; and how they might work together to make these challenging but ultimately important and necessary decisions.

TEACHING MATERIALS:

  • TEACHING NOTES
  • GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR PARTICIPANTS
  • NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION – Confidential Instructions
  • SUNA ENERGY CO. – Confidential Instructions
  • ENERGY AUTHORITY – Confidential Instructions
  • WATER AUTHORITY – Confidential Instructions
  • ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION OFFICE – Confidential Instructions
  • INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT BANK – Confidential Instructions
  • ENERGY FUTURES – Confidential Instructions
  • ASSOCIATION OF INDUSTRIES – Confidential Instructions

 

 

Bepo Dam Plan, The Attributes

Time required:
6.5-8 hours
Number of participants:
8
Teams involved:
No
Agent present:
None
Neutral third party present:
Yes
Scoreable:
No
Teaching notes available:
Yes
PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Ordering copies for multiple participants

If you wish to order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Participant Copies.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required; the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Participant Copies.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.