The Last 12 Months
The last year has seen a Swedish teen sensation taking the world by storm…causing mass hysteria wherever she goes (and even where she doesn’t!), requiring the police to step in a few times now, amazing and annoying fans and critics alike with her stage performances as she becomes quite the leading voice. Meet the pop sensation of a different kind — The Girl With the Climate Hullabaloo. Love her or hate her, agree with her or decry her passion, no one can deny the impact she is having on how people the world over are looking at climate change. The science has been there for all to see, but the effect she has had on people — youth in particular — to get the sense of urgency hitting home in the last 12 months is quite something else. In the last 12 months I have also been pondering over what I personally believe about climate change and what needs to be done. I am definitely ‘a believer’ — I very clearly fall on the side that thinks something has to change if the planet is to continue to be kind to the human race in the future.
There are arguments that some people make about technological change in industry being the only solution to solving the problem — I have considered this and while I do agree that having a significant impact in one go is likely to be through game-changing technological progress, waiting for that alone could be decades away. And given that the heat-trapping carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years after being emitted, I really don’t see that we can place all our eggs in the technology basket alone. Regulation and policy is another weapon in the fight against climate change. And while this also has a really important part to play in some areas — particularly around making adoption of certain initiatives more affordable — I think that becoming an over-regulated world is not the most pleasant answer to the problem. I have definitely been inspired by a lot of what I have read about the issue, and while the pendulum had to perhaps swing to the other extreme to get people’s attention, getting practical change out of people will require some practical tools and real time feedback to move people to action. I was soon convinced that I wanted to get involved in doing something positive in this space. It dawned on me quite quickly that the individual’s impact is actually best tracked, managed and actioned through following the money (not surprising, given my banking background)! After all, everything we consume has a currency attached to it.
So a couple of us are now working on an idea to build a real time carbon footprint tracker as we spend to help us ‘Economyz’ — alerts on how our behaviour can have a carbon-positive impact, product and service offers that are more eco-friendly and within our budget. I have spoken to lots of people about our idea, and the general feeling I’ve had from Gen Z-ers through to Baby Boomers, is that while many of them try and ‘do their bit’, it tends to be based on what they read or what their mates tell them. It is quite hard to really understand what your impact on the planet is and almost everyone wants to do more. When I share the idea of what we are looking to build, uniformly everyone I have spoken to thinks it’s a good idea and something that’s lacking today. I’ve seen some people liken it to the impact Fitbit has had on the average person making that effort to complete the 10k steps in the day — whether or not 10k is the right number, it seems to be better than 5k! Or the impact that disclosing calories on food items has in dissuading that imp of temptation dancing on your shoulder when you pick up the delicious looking sweet treat! We want to build a tool that is your consciousness as a consumer — focused on your impact on the planet, while channeling your eagerness to go ‘eco’ within that boring thing called budget. So here we go — we are at the starting line of a marathon! And we are looking forward to every one of the 26 miles to go!