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Let’s normalise – making carbon cutting normal

10:10 has had a very successful first year, inspiring and connecting tens of thousands of people, building a campaign to change daylight savings time, co-ordinating an international day of action in October, and even getting the government to commit to cutting its emissions by 1o% this year.

But it’s 2011, and you may have noticed that the campaign is still here. So, 11% reduction in 2o11? Perhaps not, but you’ve got to do something with a movement that’s active across 40 countries. So after some careful consideration, the name is staying and the organisation will continue to build in some new directions.

One of these new directions is a website provisionally called My10:10, an online, socially networked tool for carbon-cutting. This sounds like a great idea. “Before embarking on this project,” writes Eugenie Harvey, “we surveyed all the climate-related calculators, websites, networks and other tools currently online and found nothing that came even close to delivering an engaging, useful and ongoing experience.”

That’s been my experience too. My own survey of carbon calculators found nothing comprehensive. There are some useful carbon tracking sites like iMeasure or readyourmeter, but social elements are rudimentary at best and the tools are limited. You have to be pretty keen to get involved. Something that brings it all together and makes it simple would be great, but ingeniously,  My10:10 also integrates into Facebook. “The whole tool is fully integrated with Facebook – enabling the user to promote the system to their friends and family – and there are gameplay elements such as prizes and medals to encourage ongoing interaction.”

This is important. Socialising carbon cutting makes it normal. It moves it beyond a niche interest for greenies, something you’re ‘into’, in the same way you might be into motorbikes or morris dancing. If your friends are doing it and talking about it, chances are you’ll take it more seriously too.

It reminds me of a woman I met at Transition training. She told us how she had been the first person on her street to get chickens, but that there were now seven households with chickens on her road. ‘I made it okay’, she said, and on her street it’s now quite normal to keep chickens. Incredible Edible Todmorten discovered something similar as they started digging up grass verges and planting vegetables, and more people are growing their own in Todmorten than any other place in Britain. And have you ever noticed a house with solar panels on the roof, and then looked next door and found them on the roof there as well? If everybody is doing it, it’s normal. If you’re the only ones, as my wife and I have discovered, you get ‘the good life‘ jokes from the neighbours.

Imagine, for a moment, that concern for the environment was the same as concern for the economy. The economy is on the news every day. We get updates on the stock market in the same way as we get the weather forecast. Rising prices, interest rates, unemployment figures, these are all things that ordinary people are familiar with, even if we don’t necessarily understand them. I’ve talked about inflation with the guy at the cornershop. Everybody knows when we’re in recession and when we’re not, and it’s not odd to mention it.

If we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the climate needs to become that familiar, that widespread. Here’s hoping My10:10 takes us one step further to making carbon cutting normal.

2 comments

  1. Normalising is exactly what we need to do. It’s a big part of our work at Going Carbon Neutral Stirling. We work with groups to encourage them to work together towards carbon reduction, so it’s a shared community experience and challenges and solutions can be worked through together. However, normalising also needs some degree of infrastructure in place. For example: we couldn’t have normalised recycling (well, almost!) without household collections and the recycling bins we all received. This took top level action and local authority support. Equally we couldn’t have gone down the solar panel route without changes to planning permission. Equally we can’t normalise cycling without safe cycle routes. We can’t normalise low carbon holidays without a reliable and cost effective train network (some hope!).

    So I think it’s a balance. We need media, government, business, communities and individuals to sign up to whichever carbon reduction measures work for them and carry on reducing it until we reach the levels needed to avoid climate change and get off oil.

    Anyway, all the best with it!

  2. It’s still the old ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ it would seem. The things that make us look ‘good’ are perhaps evolving from just status symbols (cars, fancy home improvements) to more virtuous stuff such as grow your own, solar panels etc.

    I guess it can only be a good thing, whatever helps drive this kind of change must be. Plugging into facebook is smart, I think I’ll have a go at it, i know I’m pretty shoddy when it comes to considering my impact, but I’m not sure my parents will be convinced in this way.

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