Despite unprecedented news coverage of anthropogenic global warming and climate change, average Western consumer mentality remains apathetic and significant reductions of emissions on an individual level have failed to take hold. Part of the reason for this is a disconnect between high-flown concepts such as emission targets and global limits to temperature increase, and the potential impact of individual contributions to emission reductions. As a result, climate change mitigation has primarily become a political rather than consumer responsibility. This divide is further aggravated by a wholly complex energy market, complicated not only by the real-time price and emissions fluctuations of modern electricity grids, but also by the existence of emission trading schemes and green certificates that, despite their best intentions, are being used to confuse and mislead consumers.
We believe that it is in the best interest of clean-tech energy producers to grant consumers access to easily-digestible, straightforward information on the emissions associated to their everyday purchases. With Project Traceback, we aim to grant consumers fingertip access to the cold facts, to greenhouse gas emissions of the energy-reliant products and services they make use of on a daily basis. By leveraging big data with state-of-the-art analysis and visualization techniques, our mobile application will collect and display (where applicable) real-time, time-averaged and cradle-to-grave emissions from electricity, gas and district heating providers, modes of transportation, as well as other common goods and services. Products that belong to the same category will then be ranked and attributed easily-understandable labels that reflect both their relative (within a category) and absolute magnitude of emissions. For users that are active on social media, native integration with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will make sharing observations and opinions effortless, which will positively impact both the climate and the popularity of the app by facilitating social awareness and increasing app exposure. Through this social media integration, additional options exist for gamifying the experience by quantifying, rewarding and celebrating climate-friendly behavior.
The primary impact of the described app will be the increased social awareness of emission reductions on the individual level. By stimulating carbon transparency between consumers and service providers, climate-friendly practices are encouraged by providing an additional, important metric to consumers that are weighing different alternatives. Similarly, businesses that are promoting efficient, low-carbon solutions can expect to profit from the heightened customer awareness and improved emission insights. This shift in favor of green providers can be expected in all industries that deliver services that can be quantified in terms of carbon footprint, from electricity and transport to supermarket groceries and online shopping. In other words, it's a classical win-win-win situation; one win for the concerned customer, one for the clean-tech companies and, most importantly, one for the environment.