Exactly one month ago, I was lucky enough to attend COP26 in Glasgow. Not surprisingly, there has been a lot of reporting on this year’s summit, dubbed by media, activists and business as ‘our last chance to act’. Both during and post the summit, the media has been loud (a good thing); and bold (also a good thing) in keeping everyone to account. There was a lot said about ‘stalemates’; ‘disillusionment’ and ‘hollow’ rhetoric devoid of any real action.
For many, watching, interpreting and making sense of it all from a distance may have left you feeling somewhat disillusioned - because is there ever really enough action; speed and urgency around the most important challenge facing humanity right now?
This post isn’t about disagreeing with you...because it’s true. We need action; we need speed and we need urgency. Rather, I wanted to share why, personally, I came back even more motivated; more determined...dare I say more HOPEFUL than ever before.
Because here’s the thing: While COP26 is about cracking down, with a focus on targets and measures needed to move the needle, we can all take back control by cracking on.
Here’s my quick guide on the power of perspective when the problem seems insurmountable…
The scale of the climate crisis is so huge and systemic that it’s easy to feel powerless. Cogo is on a mission to change that by helping consumers understand, reduce and compensate for their impact. When we do this, our climate actions influence others and help create conditions for further change to happen.
Our motto at Cogo is 'Let's Go Change The World Together' and, ultimately, solve the climate crisis through the collective action of government, business and individuals. The word ‘collective’ is key. Look it up, and it means ‘Done by people acting within a group.’ People acting means you and I; after all, it’s the individuals who make up a group that have the power to influence that group.
We’re currently empowering millions of consumers with real-time data that enables them to address the climate crisis head-on. Whether that’s logging in or opening their banking app or accounting software, people can now see the real-time impact of their spending. They’re also prompted to take data-proven actions to reduce their impact on people and the planet.
I’ll say it again - we can crack down; or crack on with making an individual (and collective) difference.
Cogo knows, from experience, that the collective impact of making (relatively small) changes is HUGE. Insights from our 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 all 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.
17 million trees; and that’s only one partnership with one collective!
Climate justice activists like Daze Aghaji are absolutely incredible. In her latest chat with Cogo, Daze shines a light on eco-anxiety - a term used to describe an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis.
Part of the ‘cure’ - while not a simple one - is surprisingly pragmatic. “When I started grassroots organising, that was when things changed for me,” says Daze. In a similar chat with Cogo, photo journalist and documentary film maker Alice Aedy shared that joining an activist group helped lessen the weight she felt on her shoulders.
Helplessness that comes with feelings of existential dread around climate can leave you feeling like there’s nothing you can do. But that’s not true. Not all of us are able to join an activist group; but all of us are able to take action - and action = activism.
No matter how young you are, you have a voice and the power to drive change by turning your emotions into action.
In summary, when things feel out of control; start with what’s within your control. Feeling disillusioned is OK (we’ve been there!); but harnessing those emotions and aiming them towards action is far more powerful.
It’s in your (our!) hands to make a difference.
P.S. Once you’ve taken back control, here’s a handy ticklist to guide your thinking:
P.P.S: Cogo has deep experience in guiding people to take sustainable action. We've been in the climate field as a company for over 10 years (and our founder Ben Gleisner for over 20) and have built a company off the back of the belief that what you and I do matters...a lot! If you’d like our help on taking action, get in touch.