The BBC website offers the chance to play at being the President of Europe, to show the difficulties of balancing climate change and votes, instead it demonstrates how capitalism cannot tackle climate change, argues Jo Gough

Climate ChallengeUniversity students are being encouraged to play the BBC Climate Challenge Game. Initially compelling, it soon demonstrates that the BBC really is crap, universities teach a liberal agenda, and that capitalism cannot tackle climate change.

This award-winning game, based on real statistics, implies it is impossible to solve climate change and stay popular with voters. From my numerous attempts I believe it is impossible to improve climate emissions, stay in office and be in the black…in a neo-liberal multiple-choice game which forces one to make small-scale reforms and only gain wealth through privatisation, higher taxes and increasing the pension age to 85.

There is no option to tax business, end wars, scrap Trident, invest in public transport, fine polluting businesses or invest in green jobs. In fact, the only mention of the impact of choices on employment is at the end, when if you have no wealth then joblessness and crime is rife. This happened to me even when my final public approval rate was 98%. It seems the BBC is once again giving the governmental view, in this case that individual changes are the main way to tackle climate change. Anything else is simply too expensive.

The game when you become the President of Europe, holding more persuasive power than North America in target-setting negotiations. I attempted subsidy-bribery and felt a little like Cameron must have felt when India gave its weaponry contract to France. I could only sway nation states once I had reached targets myself. A small lesson in policy making, and incidentally, when subsidising North America, a small lesson in their view that tackling climate change equals cleaner power plants. The importance of the talks is that fewer natural disasters befall you if all nations agree to the targets.

To complete the game you have to achieve these climate targets, and avoid election defeat, for ten terms. An approval meter indicates whether a decision will be favourable, and although the public are supportive of low taxes and investment in services, their biggest disapproval ratings are on building regulations, discouraging flying and anything which will make driving more expensive. I guess the opinions were derived from not-so-representative polls of middle-class liberals.

There are a myriad of options in the game when it comes to changing energy usage. Short-term options are offered like tree planting, grants for turbines, switching from coal to gas and carbon capture to large-scale wave, solar, wind, hydrogen or nuclear use. However, there is controversy around a number of these options with inadequate optional information to make choices. You also can’t introduce macro- and micro-diversification at the same time and from the beginning, so for example, you can’t fit solar panels and wind turbines to every home as well as building solar farms and offshore windfarms, and you often have to go through three terms to fully implement them. This is what’s needed to viably tackle climate change but the game ignores all this, and you’re pretty much doomed on the food and water front regardless of what you do.

This lack of choice is most obvious when it comes to corporations, which can hardly be touched. Soft laws can force energy-efficient products and promote the use of renewable energy, but carbon trading is also encouraged and tax rises are for individuals, not businesses. These options were mainly under the individual choice area, alongside household changes. Even added together these choices made minimal difference when compared to continent-wide changes.

I hope the students using this game will discuss its obvious flaws, like the fact that the transformative choices simply aren’t on offer, and realise that the ‘choices’ we are presented with are the worst options, not the only ones possible. You can ‘give the earth a chance’ in the game alongside never privatising, lowering taxation and using clean energy, but you wealth rating and therefore your society would then be doomed. However, you are also ousted if you choose options from what current governments are actually doing, which shows that capitalism will never offer a viable way to solve the climate crisis. In this game you cannot win. I think someone out there could transform lefty academia into a multi-choice game on how to tackle climate change and improve society. And for this game we need to win, both virtually and in reality, before there is no ‘play again’ option.