How to get islanders on board with tackling climate change? Turn it into a 'game', argues one islander...
I am sure many readers will be united in their disappointment by the costly Citizens Assembly suggestions on climate change and the authoritarian state-style suggestions.
This isn’t to say there weren't some valuable suggestions, such as glass/solar roads and more efforts towards moving into sustainable finance, but it certainly was not worth the reported £389k that was spent on it. There is no doubt in my mind those monies could have been put to better use.
Having read through the report, I was shocked to find little suggestion on changing attitudes - this was talked about with little substance and viewed in the context of policy or vast subsidies looking to taxes, financial reserves and corporate sponsorship to achieve this. (Of course, there will be a need for legislative changes, many of which will be inline with global industries commitments to more sustainable practices.)
Climate Change is a global issue we must work towards addressing and Jersey must play its part - but the island's contribution on a global scale is miniscule, so why should we bother and what is the value to our island?
In many ways, our hands are tied. Jersey is a signatory, through the UK, to the Kyoto Protocol, committing to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, meaning 'do nothing' is not an option.
Let's reflect for a moment.
On the one hand, Jersey could be a good subordinate of global pressures and get a pat on the head for being a good sport - that is surely the reality the Citizen Assembly would have us embrace, given their suggestions and limited bandwidth for solution and innovation.
I, however, don’t subscribe to mindless eco warrior-esque change, I want dynamic change that informs, creating an example of excellence for larger jurisdictions to follow. I want Jersey to stand at the global table, speak, be heard and lead with innovative solutions and thought processes... which leads me to the crux of this column: I want Jersey to game-ify climate change.
We know human nature can be almost by default competitive and at times petty, ao why not use human nature as our lightning rod for change rather than attempt to legislate against and create discord and apathy for the mission of sustainable living?
This can be done through peer-to-peer based competition and rivalry. The attitude change starts with the thought: “X in the office is always so smug about his eco points being the highest - I know if I go out and ride an EVIE bike every Sunday for the next few months I'll have more points than him, giving me bragging rights.”
IoT solutions could be woven into supermarkets, electric bike rentals and other facets of island life linking sustainable choices to 'ECO Points', utilising the island's world-class digital infrastructure. This could be linked to everything from refilling a milk bottle to recycling and so much more!
Here's how such a solution could look:
Product and erasability - An app which can be installed and linked to various sustainable actions you can take throughout your day-to-day life, coupled with a moderated sustainable businesses function to show consumers what businesses are working towards a more sustainable future.
Novelty and reason - We need a novelty to persuade and facilitate adoption of more sustainable thinking. For this, we could have 'ECO Points' coupled with an achievement-based system, allowing for a greater sense of connection to your journey to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Adoption and span - The success of changing attitudes will hinge on a large enough adoption and varied activities with 'ECO Points' eligibility. We would need a broad array of 'ECO Achievements' to be hunted and an ample number of activities and products designed to reward sustainable choices.
Usage and benchmarking - Change will have little longevity without a community-first approach. Through the creation of 'ECO Circles', there would be a larger peer-to-peer benchmarking system speaking to the competitive nature of humanity. Through this, we'd be more likely to build and maintain sustainable lifestyles.
Reward - Given the right checks and measures are in place, there is an argument to say we could incentivise eco-friendly actions through making 'ECO Points' redeemable in the form of tax rebates or vouchers in collaboration with Visit Jersey and the hospitality industry. This could be a way to further reward behavioural change. (Of course, this would need to be considered in line with a cost analysis and only implemented if deemed to be more cost effective than the additional cost for policing of policy changes or multiple subsidiaries.)
To me, this certainly seems a more valuable use of £389,000 of taxpayers' money than a report suggesting a pie in the sky approach, with little thought to cost and implications of such reckless and rudderless ambition.
The above could be a relatively low-cost solution that could see Jersey recognised as an innovative, digital jurisdiction that offers unique solutions to global issues, flying the flag for the island as a 'digital sandbox'. It would also ensure Jersey’s value to the global conversation is recognised, further securing its place on the international stage.