Published on December 27th, 2016 | by Tina Casey0
High-Impact Technology For Climate Change Is Already Here
December 27th, 2016 by Tina Casey
It’s time for the annual Masdar blogging contest, and this year’s theme poses an interesting challenge for us here at CleanTechnica: what will be the most important technological development over the next 10 years that will have the greatest impact in reducing climate change risks?
The problem is that CleanTechnica is all over clean tech like white on rice, so how do you choose, for example, between cheap solar cells that can be painted on any surface and plugged in with minimal training, or wireless transmission that beams electricity from floating offshore wind turbines.
Youth And Climate Change
On the other hand, the question doesn’t say it has to be new technology.
So, let’s go. This year’s theme was inspired by the Masdar Global Youth Survey. It revealed that young people see climate change as “the biggest threat over the next decade,” bigger than economic upheaval or terrorism.
The survey also revealed that most young people feel that older people are not capable of addressing climate change effectively.
Here’s an explainer from The National, a publication of Abu Dhabi Media:
Young adults today are serious about taking responsibility for the environmental legacy they have inherited, believing it is the biggest issue for their generation to solve and they were sceptical (sic) of corporations’ attempts to deal with climate change.
In other words, from a youth perspective corporations are not investing in enough clean technology to prevent catastrophic climate change.
The survey also demonstrated that young people believe that they can push corporations in the right direction by exercising their power as consumers:
In fact, they were willing to boycott corporations they saw as disingenuous when addressing climate change. Almost half, 46 per cent, chose to spend money on products from companies that behaved in a sustainable way and 31 per cent would boycott a company they perceived as following unsustainable practices.
Those are two important clues about what could be the most important technological development that will have the greatest impact in reducing climate change risks.
First, it has to be something that young people can use. That means it has to be relatively cheap, durable and portable — so it’s not an electric car — and it has to be useful in many different parts of the world.
Second, it should be something that young people can use frequently, as they go about their daily lives — that is, when they are spending money on things.
The third factor has to do with the timeline. If it’s something that needs to make a difference within the next ten years, then it needs to be based on existing technology that can deployed rapidly — the more viral, the more better.
The Shopping App Of The Future
Connect all the dots and you have technology that’s already in the palm of your hand — a smartphone. Add an app for sustainable, risk-mitigating shopping and there’s your most important technological development.
Of course, sustainability-themed shopping apps are already out there in the app store. A quick search brings up Buycott, which lists a number of climate-related campaigns on its website along with a slew of other CSR topics.
There are also websites like Climate Counts, which rates companies and recommends whether to support them or not.
However, none of these are quite developed to the level necessary for high-impact results.
A high-impact shopping app would have to go far beyond recommending where (or where not) to open your wallet. It would be interactive, and it would act more like a cross between a bridal registry and a fitness tracker than an online boycott directory.
It would include functions that help you avoid buying stuff on impulse, reduce your need for excess stuff, log your purchases so you don’t buy duplicates or extras, track your stuff so you never lose it, extend the lifespan of stuff you already own, focus your purchases on long-lifespan items that lend themselves to recycling, reclaiming or reusing, coordinate with friends and family so nobody gets unwanted gifts ever again, and help you pass your unwanted stuff along to the next consumer.
The sustainable shopping app of the future is practically here already. Got any better ideas?
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