Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

CO2 Policies in Democracy 4

I’m starting to fine tune some of the values in the simulation so that they reflect a better approximation of real world choices in 2020, as well as keeping the game fun to play, and taking into account some new policy options that we have introduced. A runthrough of all the current options in my policies list that affect CO2 emissions DIRECTLY gives me this:

This is in NO WAY the extent of the CO2 sim, because its also affected indirectly. For example we now model veganism/vegetarianism and its impact on emissions, and you can indirectly affect them by policies that encourage less meat consumption, which happens (again indirectly)( through tougher food standards and food labeling and certain dilemmas and events.
Also a lot of emissions come from Cars and Planes, and we have taxes and other systems such as bus and train subsidies that allow you to affect the take-up of those forms of transport, as well as the conversion from fossil fuel vehicles to electric..

HOWEVER! That does not mean I should just throw my hands up in despair and go ‘its too complex!’. I need to keep checking values to ensure they make at least some rational sense right? :D So what do I need to change here…

Obviously the carbon tax is WAY too good. It has negative impacts too, in that it damages the economy and upsets capitalists at the extremes, but not nearly enough for a policy that brings in so much cash. At the extreme end it brings in more than twice as much as inheritance tax at its extremes. Something I REALLY should model is one of the paradoxes of taxes like these…

A carbon tax is an externality tax. Its basically punishing people for doing something bad thats not otherwise reflected in the market. If such taxes do their job… people do less of that thing. if people do less of that thing… the tax REVENUE goes DOWN. In other words, as we put the tax up, the revenue should rise and then plateau and then fall…

Luckily thats easy! because we support all sorts of equation types in the game, Currently the game has a multiplier on the income from the carbon tax like so:


Which is rubbish, because if we reduce emissions to zero, the tax should clearly be zero too. We need to change that to be a straight linear multiplier instead. Also I think we need some extra negatives for that tax. It effectively acts as an energy tax (annoys everyone) a car tax (annoys motorists…scaled by the electric car transition…) and a flight tax (annoys wealthy and reduces tourism).

Looking at the other end of things, Carbon Capture & Storage is ludicrously ineffective yet expensive. Is there a reason for this? Well it is VERY fast acting, unlike many of the others (which makes sense, as it ACTIVELY takes carbon out of the atmosphere, instead of hoping one day people buy less polluting cars…), but even so… I may have to bump up its usefulness and tweak the cost down a bit…

Other noticeable ones are new car subsidies having minuscule effect and huge cost. It reduces our emission by 4% at best. Cars contribution to emissions is roughly 12% of the total (data here). Assuming that the new car subsidies at their peak involve maybe 50% of cars being replaced, that should affect 6% of emissions…so new cars being more efficient really is a drop in ocean. Yikes.

Meanwhile in the real world about 50% of CO2 is from the energy sector, yet my renewable energy subsidies only reduce emissions at maximum by 15%, whereas pollution controls are 19%. That seems backwards at best, but maybe pollution controls needs a major reduction in effectiveness. After all, its just ‘controls’ without specifying more, so that might limit emissions, but certainly not stop them entirely. Its likely focused on particulates and even water/ground pollution too…

Also mandatory micro-generation looks a little generous. As effective as centralized subsidies? I doubt it. Even if EVERYONE starts to retrofit houses with solar panels, that still doesn’t cover winter/night-time generation, and in terms of bang-for-your bucks, Hydro and Wind (esp offshore huge farms) are likely to be more cost effective.

Also I reckon eco home regulations is under-effective. It will take a LONG time to take effect, but as someone who RIGHT NOW is getting new windows fitted (see below my thermal camera image showing the new (Blue) and old (yellow!) and can feel the difference… I think that this should be a more effective overall and per-dollar policy.


Lots more to tweak!

13 thoughts on CO2 Policies in Democracy 4

  1. Is the micro-generation subsidies abstracting as well storage? That kind of addresses your concern about night time, right?Winter time may be hard for solar in Northern England, but definitely not a problem depending on latitude.

    Yet I agree that huge solar/wind projects + large scale solar are probably best bang for your buck and more equitable too.

  2. Yup, I’m lumping storage in with generation for simplicity sake. It does partially solve the issue of night-time storage, but doesn’t solve the much lower solar power during winter (at a time where power usage may actually be higher). Plus domestic storage is pretty limited AFAIK. I don’t have figures for the percentage of solar-panel owners with battery storage but I suspect its still very small, even in california.

  3. Perhaps the cost of carbon capture could drop as you invest more into it, to reflect the process of innovation and economies of scale?

    1. Hmmm. I should maybe also tie its cost to technology? I did some reading on the topic and it seems the real cost is not tech, or infrastructure, but the fact that it reduces power output of a power plant because you need to use some power to compress the CO2 as you capture it, which may be impossible to make any more efficient.

  4. I don’t know if this is a debate topic in England.
    In the US there’s a concern that by pushing emissions limits we have outsourced factories causing more global pollution. (Negative capitalist and environmentalist). Import or foreign controls might fix that but I’m not aware of anything like that if it exists. CO2 as a global affect with events and foreign policy should be included if you’re going for a full effect.

    1. This is a widespread concern ‘exporting emissions to china’ etc. I would rather not introduce a complete mess of international relations with specific countries, as it then requires so much knowledge about international relations on the part of the player. I do think its a valid point though. I will give it some thought.

      1. If co2 hurts foreign relations anyway then that’s all the knowledge you need. It seems reasonable to presume that the out of control co2 emissions from a country get caught up in global trade winds and passed on to other countries. No country wants to deal with the emissions of another country. That’s how I look at it anyway. A global climate agreement is a dilemma that was introduced in the dlc of democracy 3. Perhaps that will make its way into democracy 4.

  5. Would Government ownership of electricity affect this in any way? So maybe the markets could be very slowly moving to renewables, but governments could subsidise renewables to make it a little faster and could bring it into public hands and invest heavily and it makes it really fast.

    1. Ha! this is controversial because yes… it *might* encourage a shift to renewables, but it might also go the other way. It trumps government nationalized US power production, it would likely do more coal-investment :D
      So in the game, we have policies that model this. There is a (new) policy for you to introduce state ownership of the energy sector, but we also have two policies that model fossil-fuel subsidies and renewable energy subsidies, so you can pick your nationalised power strategy :D

      1. It’ll be interesting to play around with nationalising electricity production. The goal would be spread electricity through the entire country regardless of it’s profitability. I’m curious how fossil fuel subsidies and clean energy subsidies would impact the country while electricity is nationalized. Would union membership be affected by that too? Can’t wait til the game comes out.

  6. Will be there extra controversial policies, or regular policies with settings outside of US/EU political Overton window?

    That is you could be ultraconservative or ultraprogressive, when it comes to society and technology.

  7. You should remove Evolution VS Creationism policy, and in its place add spiritual (religious)/scientific education.

    Evolution VS creationism is purely US problem

    Also default policies should be set differently (different levels) for each country, not just left default.

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