The protection of the climate is a question of education, knowledge and resulting attitudes
Our story starts with practical information about how we can now begin to abandon energy obtained from coal, gas and petrol and use renewable energy instead, powered by the sun, wind, and water. We present solutions instead of provoking panic! It is also a question of using fewer resources and reusing those which we are already using. In 2011, before the launch of the first edition, we invested in two 40-panel photovoltaic systems. Follow our example! With this investment, we started to produce clean energy for ECO123. Ever since our very first edition, our offices have been powered with renewable electricity. And, since 2016, our transport has also been powered by clean energy. Of course, at the moment, westill have issues with the batteries whichwe need to resolve. We keep up to date with developments. We must take small steps to work towards a carbon-neutral climate. Let’s take that first step now! Our electric car, which so far has travelled roughly 80,000 km free of emissions, contributes to this cause as it is charged around 90% of the time from our own solar energy installation. Zero emissions! In addition, we produce much of our food at home: olive oil, potatoes and vegetables. We harvest several times per year, and use our own seeds. In this way, we are able to cut the number of trips we make to the supermarket, generate less plastic waste and reduce our overall emissions. We farm organically and locally.
In order to protect the climate, we need to raise levels of awareness and strengthen our sense of collectiveness
At the beginning of 2015, several colleagues of ECO123 came to Lisbon from various parts of the country in order to work on an idea: a climate calculator. Our goal was to provide the means to investigate individual carbon footprints over a set period of time. By regularly calculating our own emissions, a reduction in these emissions can be achieved. We discussed a name for this project and ended up calling it KYOTO. This name refers to the Japanese city where, in 1997, a climate action plan was drawn up and later ratified by 191 states. The protocol set a limit for CO2 emissions worldwide. It proposed an annual emissions value for each European citizen – which was never actually imposed – and stated that individual emissions should not exceed 3000kg of CO2. So, in 2016, we at ECO123 wondered how we might programme a real climate calculator. We also wondered how our KYOTO calculator might differ from many others that were emerging around the world.
We wanted KYOTO to be a true calculator, and so we decided to programme it as a game. In Monopoly, money is a player’s key asset, but, in KYOTO, the value of each individual’s carbon emissions is most important. Each participant’s carbon footprint is measured over the duration of a year, and each participant starts with a balance of 3000 kyotos (k). This value corresponds to the 3000kg of CO2 emissions that participants are permitted to release into the atmosphere over these 52 weeks. So how does KYOTO calculate the value of these emissions? In this first phase, ECO123 developed KYOTO to address three areas of day-to-day life: CO2 emissions are calculated on the basis of each participant’s private consumption (1), their mobility (2) and their household energy expenditure (3), through the forms they fill in online, which are available in three languages. During the first years of development, three programmers gave up. It is a complex task. Only the fourth programmer, Benno, has been able to find a solution.
The protection of the climate has to be present in all of our day-to-day actions
The first group of participants began the challenge on 1 March, 2019. Following a written application, 100 participants were chosen – subscribers to the magazine – and they started by completing weekly measurements of their carbon emissions. More than two thirds of the participants are women. There are three forms to fill in per week. However, after six weeks, 21 participants had already given up. Why? For most of them, filling in these forms is too much bother. Why do they want to know the details of how we really live? The main goal of KYOTO is to allow participants to live more consciously, to be more aware of their emissions, and to let them observe themselves without pointing the finger at others. KYOTO is like a mirror. And many people prefer not to see themselves in the mirror, avoiding the truth about their reality. Responses such as ‘I don’t have time for this nonsense’ are typical of a society in which ignorant people are destroying what sustains them. As journalists, the question that we are asking is: how much CO2 does each of us emit over the course of a year? This includes emissions generated through consumption, travel and running our households every week; measured in real time, every ten minutes. In addition to this, ECO123 would like to know how seriously participants take the subject of their emissions. Can they question and understand what they’re doing, week by week? Can they fill in these forms regularly, recognising how they live and reflecting on it?