A very inconvenient truth – why does Ducky exist?

A very inconvenient truth – why does Ducky exist?

Our civilisation is on a downward trajectory to disaster. Climate change is slowly but surely changing the world we live in for the worst, and we are not moving fast enough to address the critical issues we face. Why?

There are two main reasons.:

  1. We feel powerless as individuals to help tackle the climate crisis
  2. We are not talking about the crisis properly, if at all.

This is why Ducky exists.

1. We don’t clearly understand how we can help tackle the climate emergency

Spend some time reading up on climate change and you will see a wide variety of facts and opinions about the reasons why the crisis is growing. These range from ‘our government is not doing enough’, to ‘it’s the fault of car drivers/ airlines/ shipping/ construction/ China/USA/Coal/Oil/etc’. Pick a target.

However, when you strip away all of the rhetoric, the reality is there are just too many of us consuming too much. We fly too much, eat too much, buy too much, build too much, drive too much and so on. If there’s one thing the COVID19 pandemic has taught us it’s that when we stop consuming, carbon emissions – the root cause of increased global warming – plummet.

But even though we are starting to wake up to the facts, we still don’t feel we have the power as individuals to help tackle the crisis. Probably the most common excuse is ‘well what can I do about it, I’m just one person?.’ Which of course is absolutely true. But as with all revolutions, change always starts with ‘just one person’. Then it grows. We each have the power to make change happen. Ducky is a catalyst for this process of change. And we do it in three ways.

First – we help individuals track their personal emissions. We don’t use generic footprint calculators that combine global averages, we use country specific data combined with each individual’s personal emissions footprint. In this way we can be confident that our calculated footprint is the closest you can get without having someone standing in your home counting off your consumption minute by minute.

Next – once we have identified that personal emission number, we run Ducky campaigns – gamified competitions between teams – to encourage individuals to reduce their emissions by changing their daily habits. By logging their habit changes on their phones during a challenge we can get people to see immediately how it reduces their carbon emissions. Kilogram by kilogram. And just as importantly, it starts a conversation about the potential for reducing or changing consumption. This in turn highlights clearly that we all have a crucial part to play in tackling climate change at its source.

Probably the most common mental excuse is ‘well what can I do about it, I’m just one person?.’ Which of course is absolutely true…

Finally – we at Ducky can aggregate all this anonymous data and help local government to identify citizen consumption and emissions, and take action at a regional level to encourage even more emissions reduction. At this point the impact increases exponentially, which can generate a virtuous circle of more environmentally aware citizens contributing collectively to a better and more informed world.

2. We’re not talking about climate change properly, if at all

Climate psychologists like Professor Per Espen Stoknes strongly believe we’re not talking about the climate problem in the right way, if at all. In his landmark TED Talk from 2017, he outlines a set of simple communication solutions to driving climate change to the top of our personal agendas. One of these he calls ‘flipping distance to social’. By focusing on positive actions by friends, family and neighbours he believes we can get away from remote polar bears and sea rise, and do things which have an immediate, local and relevant effect.

George Marshall, founder of Climate Outreach and author of Don’t Even Think About it agrees. He sees the human brain as evolutionarily adapted to deal with immediate threats, the here and now. In other words we’re wired to ignore most of our environment and focus on what could harm us right now. Climate change for most people is so far off that it is easily ignored while we all focus on putting food on the table and avoiding pandemic fall-out.

Both of these viewpoints acknowledge a fundamental disconnect (dissonance) between what we understand and how we act. Because climate science is complex for many people – ask anyone what a 3 degree rise in temperature means to them and listen to the answer – it’s much easier to relate to narratives like ‘temperatures have always gone up and down’ or ‘you could grow grapes in the UK in Roman times’, and act on that comforting understanding. As George puts it, “they’re people who can’t make the connection between what they know, what they care about and what they do.”

Which again is where Ducky is trying to change the conversation.

We need to start a new conversation. Not about polar bears and glaciers, but about how we can collectively reduce our consumer habits, and how important those changes are for our planet.

Our Ducky platform helps to create new narratives for people. Not threatening, or doom laden, but stories which show that if we work together we can create real change. If we change one small habit in our daily lives – e.g. turn down a thermostat, use public transport instead of a car, eat a vegetarian meal – then it will have a direct positive effect on our climate footprint. And if enough people get together to do this, share their experiences and try and do it regularly, then we can really swing the needle.

We need to start a new conversation. Not about polar bears and glaciers, but about how we can collectively reduce our consumer habits, and how important those changes are for our planet. Again, COVID19 has proved that it can be done, even if things got a bit weird with toilet paper, so there’s no reason why we can’t treat the virus emergency as a signal that we can do the same thing with climate change.

Those of us working at Ducky would like to invite you or your organisation to join us in trying to start a new conversation with your staff, suppliers or customers. One where good things come from adopting a more mindful approach to consumption and effects. A conversation where a simple game can change the way people think, educate them in a genial non-threatening way and help drive our society towards a more positive future.

Ducky is a digital behaviour change system which helps people track and reduce their carbon emissions footprint.

There are three parts to what we do.

  1. A unique and detailed carbon footprint calculator to track how our lifestyle impacts the planet.
  2. A gamified climate challenge app where participants compete with their peers to change habits and reduce their footprint.
  3. A custom development service which can be used to integrate CO2e  emission calculations with company products, apps and websites.

Nigel Powell,

International Relations Director, Ducky AS

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