This isn’t going to work, isn’t going to work at all:
NatWest is to become the first major UK bank to tell its customers the carbon footprint of their spending.
In what it called a “UK banking first”, the banking group which has 16 million customers across all of its brands, will trial a new app which will tell its personal banking customers the emissions impact of their shopping choices.
Around 500 customers will take part in the initial trial and, if successful, the initiative could be rolled out to millions more.
The consumers will connect their bank account to the app and, using a system developed by tech firm CoGo, it will automatically calculate a real-time carbon footprint, based on the individual’s spending.
NatWest said it will update with every spend showing the climate impact of everything “from morning coffee to lights out”.
They will also be given tips on how to reduce their carbon footprint, including lowering meat intake and switching to renewable energy providers.
Emma Kisby, managing director of CoGo, said she hoped the technology would help “nudge [consumers] towards actions and suggested businesses to help drive to a sustainable lifestyle”.
Firstly, we hit the basic Hayek Problem – this is too complex to be calculable. So, you buy a cup of coffee, what’s the footprint? If it’s industrially grown then that’s one set of fertilisers, chemicals, fuels, used. If wild, or organic, then that’s a different set – including more land to make up for the less industrial parts. The energy used to boil the water comes from? The cup is of what type? Etc.
The same is true of everything. It’s simply not possible to even collect the information to make the calculation let alone do it in anything like real time.
Then there’s a slightly different problem. As carbon footprints decline elsewhere and the world all becomes more digital we see that the tech giants are being shouted at about their own energy consumption. Some estimates have this at 8%, 10% of global. What’s the one thing this app isn’t going to tell you? Stop using the damn app and its energy consumption…..