We can all reduce our carbon emissions through easy, everyday actions
By Ben Gleisner
Last week the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published their latest scientific findings in a watershed report titled Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.
"It has been clear for decades that the Earth's climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed," said IPCC'S Working Group Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte about the report.
"The changes we're living through are unprecedented; however there is hope that they're reversible, to a certain extent.
"It could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilise..." says the IPCC, but if we can control emissions, Earth will do the rest.
As we all process these findings, one thing has become clear: it's collective action that we need to shift the dial in the right direction. This is the heart and mission behind CoGo, a free app and real-time API that helps consumers and businesses to understand, reduce and offset their carbon footprints, and align their spending with their environmental and social values. The team behind CoGo is based in Wellington and London.
It's all about the 'nudge'. Personalising your footprint
The app is powered by open-banking technology and is integrated with 35 banks in the UK and 5 banks in NZ, with over 100,000 consumer users in those markets, and uses behavioural science and what we call the 'Ethical Nudge Framework' to encourage app users to collectively reduce their emissions. The framework is based on extensive research by CoGo's data science team and climate experts such as Professor Mike Berners-Lee.
'Ethical nudges' within the app encourage people to take action around reducing their footprint. A 'nudge' might be anything from educating the consumer by showing them their real-time, personalised carbon footprint data based on their everyday spending to setting goals and receiving positive reinforcement for making emissions reductions.
The app also suggests easy actions users can commit to every day such as eating a plant-based diet, buying second-hand and home-composting. Once you commit to these actions, it celebrates your efforts by showing you the positive impact you and the rest of the CoGo community has made and the collective reduction in emissions we've all managed to achieve.
The CoGo app - free to download on iOS and Android
The app in action, strong partnerships and the future
In the UK, CoGo has partnered with one of the top 5 biggest banks, NatWest, to allow their customers to see the CO2 emissions associated with their daily spending which will be available directly within NatWest's banking app. NatWest's customers will also be provided with hints and tips on how to go greener and resources to help them along their journey. App users will also be able to log their commitments and behaviour changes. The new feature is a UK banking first and showcases the need and demand from the UK public wanting to reduce their impact on the climate.
Prior to launch, insights from the initial pilot with NatWest showed the average user saved approximately 11 kg of CO2 emissions per month by committing to behavioural changes that used less carbon - such as composting, reducing meat consumption, or switching utility providers. If this behaviour was replicated across NatWest's 8 million customers who use the mobile app, it would save more than 1 billion kg of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to planting 17 million trees.
CoGo believes that we need to continue to empower consumers with relevant real-time data that will enable us all to address the climate crisis head-on. Imagine 100 million people worldwide logging in or opening their banking app, accounting software, supermarket or insurance app and being able to see the real-time impact of their spending.
Instead of feeling confronted by this, we'd show them the categories where most of their emissions are coming from (alongside other customers so they know they're not alone) and then provide them with 'nudges' on how they can take action to lower their carbon footprint. They could even set up a 'monthly carbon budget' to see how small their footprint could be and we'd reward them once they achieved their goal.
Our motto is 'Let's Go Change The World Together' and, ultimately, solve the climate crisis through the collective action of government, business and individuals.
Now there's a business aim we should all get behind!
Ben Gleisner is the Wellington-based founder and CEO of CoGo.
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