Social platforms to enable mass green behavioural change

My idea centres around how mass behavioural change to address climate change could be triggered by the next generation of social platforms.

When considering bottom-up solutions to climate change, which broadly have fallen out of favour, there are two profound issues that need to be addressed. Firstly, a lack of clear, actionable guidance on the ways that an individual can reduce their carbon footprint (a lack of a how). Secondly, a feeling that, even if an individual does take positive steps to address climate change, their actions are so insignificant that they might as well have not bothered (a lack of a why).

Social platforms, if deployed correctly, have the potential to overcome both of these issues. Consider a hypothetical social media platform, Greenbook. Greenbook can be installed on your phone and tracks your energy usage (through your smart meter), transportation means (through geolocation), and food intake (using your phones camera). The platform then recommends changes you could make to your life and measures the amount of environmental impact you are having by enacting these changes. This satisfies the issue of how.

The social element of Greenbook is where it has its real impact. You connect with friends, colleagues and your community through the platform and the platform reports the collective impact that you are having. So rather than communicating to an individual that she has saved enough energy to power a small home, it reports to a community that they have saved enough energy to avoid X tonnes of coal being burnt. This satisfies the issue of why.

What I have outline above is just the start of this idea. Gamification (e.g. competing against friends to reduce your footprint) is another natural extension that has huge potential. Using the platform to advise on green purchasing habits could also create a powerful consumer lobby and incentivise companies to take action.

I would love to opportunity to discuss this idea further with you, I have many more thoughts on its potential and the hurdles it would have to overcome.

 

Actor(s)

 

Trigger (intervention)

High profile, celebrity endorsements could build interest rapidly, as could a friend recommending it

 

Criticality

This is a moment where there is unparalleled grassroots interest in climate change, and a real desire for tools to help communities make a difference

 

Feedback Dynamics

The bigger social platforms get, the bigger their appeal and the faster they grow

 

Timescale and scaleability

 

Resistance

 

Author

Jake Langmead-Jones

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