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With iCarbon, selecting the businesses and activities with the lowest CO2 emissions just got easier! Know their score and take action!




Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are driven by extensive GHG production on the planets’ surface due to human economic practices.


  • Climate change is difficult to see, hear, or touch and even more difficult to tie directly to daily activities and habits.
  • Changing our economic models would require a parallel change in core beliefs, values and norms.
  • Many people in the industrialized countries want to help reduce their CO2 emissions
  • People don’t know where climate change impacts occurs in their daily routines nor which individual or collective actions to take
  • Corporate contributions to carbon emissions are difficult to uncover



Mobile is arguably the most important technological advance for participatory democracy in social change. Dara O'Rourke, the creator of GoodGuide,  believes “the future is personalized, location-based information apps for what you care about — climate change, health issues, cholesterol."

[Our Solution]

iCarbon is a simple and engaging service that allows users to uncover the GHG emissions scores of business, services and environmental campaigns that are of interest. They will be able to instantly find out which companies share their values of reducing GHG emissions and which campaigns to support to help reach the IPCC goal of zero emissions by 2050.

iCarbon does this by visualizing company data from existing GHG emissions assessment organizations like AMEE, CSRHub, Good Guide, government agencies, environmental NGOs and other official sources.

Through partnership agreements with location-based services (LBS) like Yelp, Foursquare, SCVNGR, Google Now, Facebook Places or Groupon, users will be able to use familiar features like maps, check in, topic filtering and key word search while logged into their accounts.


Phase 1: 



Our team:

Tianyu Wu

Ajay Revels


Category of the action

Changing public perceptions on climate change

What actions do you propose?

Our discussions with "green" consumers, non-green consumers, product designers, academics and environmental  activists revealed a need for simple activities & tasks that could lead to larger voluntary lifestyle changes as well as increased participation in collective action. These simple activities need to be aligned with current daily routines to increase the chance of adoption.

We propose to create iCarbon functionality that will help users see the GHG reducing options in their current routines, establish new GHG mental models and develop new perceptions about consumption. These features fall into three broad categories;

  1. Keep me informed
  • clear information from GHG experts
  •  simple GHG scores for favorite brands
  •  celebrity GHG reduction stories
  •  news from trending GHG events


  1. Give me reachable goals, rewards and bragging rights
  • show me goals that others have reached compare me with people similar to me
  •  challenge me to commit to changes
  •  share my GHG reduction goals & score
  •  give me rewards, discounts and coupons


  1. Make deciding & acting easy
  • suggest GHG contests by brands I trust
  •  give me low GHG transit options
  •  help me invite friends to GHG campaigns
  •  show me GHG reduction team scores

Who will take these actions?

A record 40 percent of all American families with children under the age of 18 are now headed by women who are the sole or primary source of income. (ref: NPR

Target Actors

Our initial target audience for iCarbon will be users of LBS (Foursquare, Yelp, Gowalla, Facebook Places, etc) who also identify as eco-activists or  "green" consumers. These actors are intrinsically motivated to seek out GHG emissions information and to share it with others. They are able to influence others within their jobs (Greenpeace,, their communities of practice (writing, activism) and their personal networks.

Where will these actions be taken?

Research shows that the developed nations have the highest GHG emissions and the highest personal carbon footprints.

The world’s population is now over 50% urban, and cities make an important contribution to national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Many cities are developing strategies to reduce their emissions. iCarbon will integrate seamlessly into activities that LBS users already engage in.The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. Our goal is to engage citizens of the US, particularly those who live in the large metropolitan areas.


The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.Our goal is to engage citizens of the US and the EU, particularly those who live in the large metropolitan areas.

[img actions taken]

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

"To stabilize the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, we have to bring emissions down to a level where they can be absorbed by the oceans, plant live and the soil." -- Philippe Squarzoni. Climate Changed

[Target CO2 reductions]

That means a global reduction to 3 gigatons of carbon equivalent a year or a 75% reduction before 2050.

[CO2 reductions from iCarbon usage]

In the US, current CO2 emissions levels per capita are 19.8 mmt (million metric tonnes) which works out to about 7 tonnes per American per year.

With increased awareness of CO2 emissions sources and the ability to make low CO2 emission choices, we aim to shrink personal carbon footprints and thereby reduce emissions:

in the US to an average of 5 (tonnes) per person, per year  by 2020

What are other key benefits?

The additional benefits that derive from use of the iCarbon tool include:


  • decreased demand for fossil fuels used in manufacturing and transportation
  • decreased demand for forest products
  • increased incentive to plant trees



  • increased pressure upon corporate emitters of GHG to lower their emissions
  • increased empowerment of individuals to affect climate change
  • increased awareness of a low carbon footprint lifestyle
  • increased appreciation for the interconnectedness of human activities
  • increased interest in "slow food" and use of bicycles for transit
  • increased effectiveness of carbon footprint reduction campaigns

What are the proposal’s costs?

Projected negative consequences from activities that drastically reduce GHGs and personal carbon footprint will be primarily economic. As demand for high CO2 emitting products, services and processes decline, so could there be a parallel decline in economic production. As companies lose revenue we could see such things as:

  • manufacturing, factory and business closures
  • loss of jobs in the US and many developed countries
  • loss of funding for key state and local services


Time line

Related proposals


1. AMEE. (API) Financial and Environmental Data On Every Company

2. Bradbury S; Middlemiss L (2014) The role of learning in sustainable communities of practice, Local Environment

3.  CDIAC. Carbon Emissions Time Series. 2013.

4. Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia. 2010

5. Froehlich J., Dillahunt T., (2009) UbiGreen: investigating a mobile tool for tracking and supporting green transportation habits. CHI '09 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Pages 1043-1052. ACM New York, NY, USA ©2009

6. Fogg, B.J. (2008). “Mass interpersonal persuasion: An early view of a new phenomenon”. In: Proc. Third International
Conference on Persuasive Technology, Persuasive 2008. Berlin: Springer.

7. Fogg, BJ. (2009) Creating Persuasive Technologies: An Eight-Step Design Process. Persuasive’09, April 26-29, Claremont, California, USA.

8. Goodguide. Find safe, healthy, green, & ethical products based on scientific ratings.

9. Kay, S.,Global Carbon Emissions Infographic 2011

10. Laskey, A., Kavazovic, O. Opower. Energy Efficiency through behavioral science and technology. XRDS. Summer 2010, Vol. 17, No. 4

11. LevelMoney. A simple, real-time picture of your daily  purchases.

12. Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Roser-Renouf, C., Feinberg, G. & Howe, P. Global Warming’s Six Americas, September 2012. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT.

13. Mint. See where every dime goes and make money decisions you feel good about.

14. National CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring: 1751-2008.

15. Squarzoni, Philippe. Climate Changed. Abrams ComicArts (2014)

16. Weber, CL., Matthews HS., (2008) Quantifying the global and distributional aspects of American household carbon footprint. Ecological Economics, Vol 66, Issues 2–3, 15 June 2008, Pages 379–391