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Climate Colab

Aug 5, 2014
08:44

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I love the idea of giving consumers broad categories about carbon impacts. I think this is much more promising than approaches that give lots of detail and attempt highly precise categories. I found this proposal exciting because of the streamlined approach. Furthermore, it focuses on a very highly carbon intensive set of products, and that is a big virtue (in contrast to other carbon calculators that attempt to cover all goods and services.) The proposal would have been strengthened by more emphasis on research and particularly the experience of UK grocery stores that have begun to use carbon accounting. How have they fared? I am also wondering about the efficacy of an online approach to grocery shopping. Most people shop for themselves and decisions are made in the store. I think a broad color coding approach should be implemented within the store. At a minimum an app to use in store. But what about actually trying to get a grocery retailer with a strong sustainability commitment to use not a virtual shelving system, but an actual one. The proposal would benefit from more detail and more engagement with the literature. I suggest looking at Dara O"Rourke's work and his experience with the Good Guide. It would also be interesting to incorporate a social influence dynamic into the app (see the work of Robert Cialdini.) More thought into who will use it and where is needed (in developing countries, less food is branded.) Also I think more attention to cost and timeline would be useful. This proposal falls into the category of: provide consumer with information about the ecological impact of their purchases, and they will change their behaviors. I am generally a big skeptic of that approach with regard to material goods because it basically tells people “you can shop all you want as long as you choose this product over that”. It does not fundamentally change the culture of consumerism and produces marginal absolute benefits. But when it comes to food, the story is different. We do need to buy and consume food, and our choices can make a huge difference from the ecological perspective. Also, most people do not know the enormous ecological impact of, for example, beef. So I like this proposal. My suggestions to the authors for further improvements are as follows: if possible, include the information about the size of a portion that you assume in these scores. A meat lover may not be willing to eliminate meat or reduce the number of meat-eating days per week, but they may be willing to reduce their portions. As we all know, American portions of meat are ridiculously large. Second, to make this proposal workable you need to address the institutional issues. How would you address the resistance of the beef industry? How would you go about getting this proposal accepted by supermarkets or food regulatory agencies? Finally, draw on the past experiences of the places where this type of labelling has been tried.

Hannah Ritchie

Aug 15, 2014
05:26

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Thanks very much judges for your comments- they were both very constructive and gave me lots to think about/consider. I've re-worked the proposal to address several of the issues you both raised. The idea primarily started out as a grouping system which could be implemented on supermarket's websites. The main reason for this was to overcome the resistance supermarkets might have about suddenly shaking up the shelving systems in their stores (especially if the supermarkets feel that it's a system their customers might not want). The statistics do show, however, that the majority of consumers would like to be better-informed about their choices and have such information available to them. The proposal has therefore been amended to implement a step-by-step process by which customers would gradually be exposed to the colour-coding grouping system- with hopes that it could reach the final stage of being widely implemented as a coloured shelving or labelling system in actual stores. The key way to persuade supermarkets to get-on-board with the idea would be to show that the consumer demand was there for such information to be available to them. The key driving force for spreading such a proposal would be through societal/consumer pressure, which I feel tends to develop in a evolutionary manner. If some of the more ethically-driven supermarkets were to uptake the system and it was well-received by consumers, this could push other retailers to provide similar information. The initial target retailers would therefore be the more ethically and environmentally focused ones e.g. the Co-operative (UK). I don't see any need to address the resistance of suppliers such as the beef industry: consumers are, and should be, free to make their own purchasing choices based on the information they are given. I haven't seen any implemented scheme which gives shoppers carbon/sustainability information on their purchases in a simple, easy-to-follow manner. As referenced in the proposal, labelling schemes have been used by organisations such as the Carbon Trust- but to date, these have all been confusing to consumers. The simplest scheme for shoppers to make quick choices as part of their weekly shop is to use the well-known traffic colouring system. The fact that Dara O'Rourke's GoodGuide has been well-received highlights that there is the demand for consumers to be more well-informed about the impact of their purchases. As discussed, however, the GoodGuide Environmental classification is not just focused on carbon-intensity, and is done at a company rather than product-level (so items such as beef could score very well because their producers employ sustainable practices in other ways). In terms of size of portions: I'm not sure there is any fairer way to do it than on a kgCO2e per kg product basis. The issue is trying to measure it on a basis that can be homogeneously/consistently applied across all food products. I am however, open to any suggestions as to how else it could be measured. Might a kgCO2e/kcal basis work? Thanks again for your comments judges. Hope I've addressed/clarified some of your questions.

Climate Colab

Sep 3, 2014
12:24

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The judges want to congratulate you on an excellent submission! They suggest you continue to consider their earlier comments more specifically, such as giving an explanation of how to account for portion size or preparation for strong resistance from agribusiness (e.g., beef lobby).

Hemant Wagh

Sep 6, 2014
10:39

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If we could consider "Save Fruit Seeds, Spread on Land Next Season" Slogan decorating the shelves it would help grow fruit trees on unused land & make available free fruits for everyone. "Save the seeds of fruits eaten by their units (work/family) throughout the year and spread/help spread those seeds onto unused land in the vicinity." This would help increase the green cover, density and in long run provide fruits free of cost to everyone. A land based Biological Carbon Capture & Sequuestration program would be beneficial. A proposal outlining such an approach is available. Following is a link to such a proposal. https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300103/planId/1310401 This would bolster the efforts directed at finding workable solution to climate change..

Hannah Ritchie

Sep 15, 2014
05:59

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Hi judges, Thanks very much for your feedback and for selecting me as a finalist. To address some of your earlier comments on the hurdles involved in the proposal: 1) The proposal has specifically been designed as a carbon-based shelving scheme that supermarkets and retailers can implement in their stores (or online). With that in mind, the power is really in the retailers' hands as to how they wish to promote and shelf their products. If the proposal was based instead on a labelling scheme where regulators are involved in the process, resistance and opposition from suppliers and agribusiness such as the beef lobby could be a significant hurdle. But since it based purely on shelving which the retailers decide themselves, outside businesses or regulators have little say in how the store operates. Since supermarkets' loyalty lies more with serving their customers and seeing to their wants and needs, rather than their many suppliers (who rely on the retailers to buy their products), if consumer desire is there to have such information available then supermarkets would be free to implement such a strategy free of regulation or opposition. 2) To address the issue of portion size: I suggest it's potentially more advantageous to present the information on a purely kgCO2/kg product basis. My reasoning for this is to keep the information on as a simple a basis as possible. For customers this would show them the carbon intensity of every product on a level-playing field. To start tweaking with portion sizes and other quantifications would bombard the customer with numbers, measurements etc. that we're trying to avoid. Some of the current labelling efforts do just that: they stick numbers and measurements on their items which makes no sense to consumers. A simplistic colour-coded system where all of the items are measured on a level playing field (i.e. per kg of product) seems like the least confusing and most customer-friendly way of presenting the information. The message of using "green" items widely and freely in their purchases, whereas using "red" items consciously/sparingly inherently advises customers that they should keep the frequency and portion size in which they use those items to a low level. Thanks again for your support, and thought-provoking feedback.

Osero Shadrack Tengeya

Sep 17, 2014
04:33

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Hi hrichie and your friends, kindly consider voting for my proposal shown on this link. https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300206/planId/1002 Thanks.

Anne-marie Soulsby

Sep 23, 2014
04:15

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Hi hritchie, Please consider voting for my proposal, https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300801/planId/1309001 Good luck with your entry! Asante/Thank-you @conserveaction

Victor Blanco

Oct 4, 2014
11:20

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Congratulations!!! Please check the "Discusion Section" in the "Community" label... Proposal of activity during the Conference Session of 2014 Winners... https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/discussion#discussion%3DpageType%3ATHREAD%2CthreadId%3A1337218

Matthew Froment

Nov 20, 2014
02:12

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Perhaps combine this proposal with Naolo Charles'(screen name naolo) proposal regarding rewards.