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May 17, 2022
Make a difference
Climate Tech

Cogo’s ENF: the anatomy of moving from climate (in)action to ACTION

Team Cogo
In partnership with

At Cogo, we’re doing all we can to help move people on from “I know why I need to change…” to “I also know HOW - this is the direction I’ve been looking for!” The distance between these two points involves harnessing behavioural science to help people take easy, tangible and active steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Along the way, Cogo’s Ethical Nudge Framework (ENF) is a key driver of this change.

This three part series break’s down Cogo’s white paper on our ENF into three easy to understand, quick-to-read blog posts. Learn why we’re taking a behaviourally informed approach to drive climate action; the skinny on how our ENF works; and the power of collective action.

The experts and scientists have told us that major climate changes are inevitable and irreversible. In light of COP26, many of us have had enough of the talking about the problem. It’s NOW time to step into the space of mass collective action to stop the climate crisis.

At Cogo, we’re doing all we can to help move people on from “I know why I need to change…” to “I also know HOW - this is the direction I’ve been looking for!”

The distance between these two points involves harnessing behavioural science (evidence-based strategies that lead to changes) to help people take easy, tangible and active steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Along the way, Cogo’s ENF is a key driver of this change.

Here’s how it works…

In its simplest form, the framework is based on the idea that successful climate action is a combination of understanding your impact and then taking active steps to reduce your carbon footprint. It follows the nonlinear journeys; those trying to improve their impact on the environment move between understanding and reducing (the two ‘loops’ of the framework). 

The framework is based on the understanding that most habits or behaviours start with a cue. A cue could be a prompt in our physical or external environment i.e things we can see, touch or hear - such as noticing a magazine headline at the supermarket about vegan food being better for the planet. A cue could also be an internal trigger involving things we already do, feel or think - such as going to the shops for some ‘retail therapy’ but then feeling that we don’t really need yet another pair of shoes.

Depending on our motivation and ability to change our behaviour, these cues are an opportunity to  to understand (learn) or reduce (take action). 

Cogo uses cues (like push notifications, in-app messages, and emails) that prompt users towards a suitable climate action, based on their unique journey. To make change more desirable or normalise positive behaviour, we then apply ‘boosts’ and ‘nudges’. These both act as a ‘digital tap on the shoulder’, promoting us to either learn or take action.

Hint hint

Remember the value action gap we described in our first blog post on the ENF? That value-action gap highlights that people don’t struggle with understanding the urgency of climate action; but rather with taking the steps they need to make a difference and overall follow through.

Boosts and nudges are what help us overcome this gap. Because after all who doesn't like being helped along the way, given a pat on the back and being told they're doing a good job!

Here’s how they work: 

Boosts are anything that helps us to understand our impact, making it more likely that we will take action in the future

Boosts focus on the positive outcomes of our actions. They help users understand the potential impact of taking action, helping to further drive either learning or action. By showing users future potential savings, based on personalised climate action calculations, using Cogo’s world-leading sustainability data, we focus on the positive outcomes - boosting the likelihood that change will occur.  

Nudges answer the question: ‘How do I make better choices?’ because they remove the barriers that get in the way of making  better choices.

Nudges look to actively steer people towards choices that align with their values. Nudging towards a low carbon lifestyle is a powerful way to take action for the environment. For example, putting plant-based alternatives next to red meat in the supermarket would be a nudge. Cogo uses nudges in the improve loop to encourage a change in users’ habits to reduce their carbon footprint. Cogo suggests alternatives to their current spending by highlighting nearby low-carbon businesses. This removes the barrier around people having to search for value-aligned businesses, making it more likely that they will move away from their default shopping habits. 

Depending on whether users take action, Cogo also provides clear feedback. Across the reduce loop, this looks like positive reinforcement, including recognition and showing progress toward goals. Across the understand loop, this is encouraging users with clear ‘next steps’ to reduce any uncertainty.

Making the change personal

Importantly, we tailor climate action cues, boosts and nudges to suit each individual using specific insights such as personal financial data, which is relevant to an individual’s context. This ensures we promote the choices to users through supportive and positive feedback. Cogo also rewards, reinforces, and recognises any progress that is made, tailored to each person’s individual journey and context. 

Making the change social

Because our actions are significantly influenced by what our peers and the people around us are doing, Cogo also leverages the power of showing us what others in the Cogo community are doing to drive action and the collective impact we are all having. 

Why include the word ‘Ethical’ in ENF?

Importantly, the principle of wellbeing, integrity and empowerment are baked-into the Cogo offering:

  • When we apply behaviour change methods, whether directly or indirectly, it’s with the goal of helping humans and the planet to thrive.
  • We do not misrepresent data or deceive or manipulate people in any way. 
  • We strive to create change ‘with’ people, rather than ‘for’ them. After all, no one likes being told what to do and how to do it.

Cogo has applied this powerful framework within our real-time API and free consumer app (available to download in the UK) to drive collective action with potentially climate altering outcomes. 

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