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How clever UX design can encourage more effective climate action
Thu, 28th Mar 2024

Many of us want to live more sustainably and recognise that we need to change our habits if we want to move closer to a net-zero society. However, knowingly or unknowingly, we don’t always take actions that align with our intentions. There are numerous, often subconscious and habitual, barriers that get in the way of being more sustainable.

A person’s knowledge and awareness of the carbon impact of their everyday actions is also key. Research shows that many prioritise low-impact actions, like recycling rather than high-impact actions, like reducing air travel. This is due to low climate literacy which is fuelled by a lack of transparency, misinformation, and confusing climate change terms.

As a global fintech that empowers individuals and businesses to understand how their daily actions impact the climate, Cogo believes that clever UX design encourages more effective climate action.

Cogo's Personal and Business Carbon Manager tools integrate carbon footprint data into bank transaction feeds, offering users real-time insights into their carbon impact. As people see this information regularly, their awareness and knowledge about the impact of different actions increases, helping people make more sustainable spending decisions.

Seeing plastic waste piling up in your kitchen, for example, might prompt you to recycle or reduce plastic use. However, carbon emissions are invisible and abstract, so it's difficult to understand the carbon impact of different behaviours. Feedback from our community highlighted that seeing the carbon emissions linked to their spending was helpful, but the numbers alone were confusing. So, our design team developed a carbon spectrum, using scale and colour to help visually compare the impact of different activities (see below image).

In collaboration with Cogco, we conducted an experiment that confirmed the spectrum’s effectiveness in enhancing people’s climate literacy. We also found a positive relationship between people’s level of understanding and the likelihood that they would calculate their carbon footprint. This suggests that it is a useful method for both improving people’s understanding and motivating them to actively measure and ultimately work towards reducing their carbon footprint.

We have also introduced innovative features like personalised climate actions to help users understand the impact of committing to certain actions by estimating their carbon savings before taking a certain action, based on their historical spend behaviour, in addition to calculating their actual carbon savings after they have taken an action. This makes the actions highly relevant to an individual which drives up engagement and encourages further action.