Last night, 12 incredible climate leaders took to the stage at TEDxKingsCross to share their views on how we can solve the climate crisis.
The lineup included climate justice activists, business leaders, award-winning journalists, and our very own CEO, Emma Kisby.
Emma spent many years of her career working with data scientists and using behavioural science to analyse people’s shopping habits to work out how to encourage people to shop more.
But Emma is now on a mission to use data for good. In this talk, Emma explains how we can use the power of consumer data and behavioural science to empower consumers to shop more sustainably and ethically.
If you missed out on the brilliant talk, don’t worry, here are some key takeaways:
Overconsumption is a key driver of the climate crisis: around 40% of carbon emissions in the UK come from households.
Research shows that we want to take action and recognise the need to drive to a net-zero society, but knowingly or unknowingly our values and actions don’t always add up.
Emma explains how data science can close the value-action gap—by helping people measure and understand their carbon footprint.
Everything you buy, from your daily coffee to your TV license has an impact and carbon emissions attached to it. So we measure your carbon footprint by integrating with your banking app.
But the challenge is helping people understand what it means.
“Data is only powerful if it has context and you can understand it.”
At Cogo, we provide context to help you understand your impact. We translate carbon emissions into easy to understand measures, e.g. 750kgs is equivalent to driving 2kms or cutting down 12 trees. And we give people social comparisons and something to aim for. For example, 750KGs is good compared to the UK average (one tonne), but leading carbon experts say we need to be at 180 kilos per month to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Emma explains that measuring and understanding your carbon footprint is a critical first step. But it doesn’t automatically mean people will take action to reduce their emissions.
We are creatures of habit. So getting people to change their everyday behaviours—like diet, shopping patterns and commute—is no mean feat.
However, Emma reveals how we apply behavioural science techniques at Cogo to help people make sustainable changes:
Personalised cues can help prompt people at the right time to take action to lower the footprint of an imminent spending decision. For example, on our app, we can see someone has just paid their energy bill, and so we can send them a cue to encourage them to switch to a renewable energy provider.
As you can’t physically see the benefit of making carbon savings, it’s important to make the experience engaging. Wherever somebody has spent money on something that has a lower footprint, we reward them. People are unwilling to make sacrifices until they have their existing sacrifices recognised.
One of the biggest challenges we face is that our individual actions feel so small relative to the enormity of the climate crisis.
We use data to show people the collective impact of the actions they do take to reduce their carbon emissions, suddenly that individual action doesn’t feel so small.
“The climate crisis, we have to make it personal, because it’s not a Hollywood film, no one is going to save us. We have the opportunity as individuals to make an impact and as a collective an even more significant impact. So hop on the scales, go and find out your carbon footprint, take some action, and let’s work towards making this 180 lifestyle the social norm.”
We walked away from this event feeling proud, uplifted, and optimistic about the incredible solutions to climate change.
Thanks to Emma, the other speakers and the amazing organisers Eleanor Besley Gould and Sara Essa at Ted for hosting such an incredible evening.