Measuring your spending Carbon footprint

Mastercard made an announcement about a new carbon footprint API today. Visa will probably follow with something similar in the near future.

Would carbon tracking be a good fit for Dozens?

1 Like

I have always loved the idea myself. Not sure if Visa has this in development (but as you say, it could encourage them to look into it).

How would you use this do you think?

note: I’ve edited the title a little to see if others agree that this is something that would be of interest to account holders

We are all aware, I’m sure, that our consumption has a carbon footprint. I would also guess, that like me, you probably want to do something about it but don’t always know how to start, or what you might do.

I’ve been interested in the idea of carbon calculators for a while, but most tend to be rather general, so to have one that calculates a much more personalised figure based on what I actually spend (and on what), would be very interesting.

On the other hand, it would also depend on how accurate it was so it felt meaningful rather than a distraction, and whether it just made me feel bad all the time rather than positive.

Would having a figure for your spending carbon footprint encourage, or discourage you, do you think?

1 Like

It looks as though Visa has, indeed, already started to develop carbon tracking tools - I came across this news release - ecolytiq and Visa bring Sustainability-as-a-Service to banks in Europe

I’m sure these tools will be a good launchpad for people to start evaluating their footprint and identify areas where they can begin to reduce their impact. From my own experiences, I know how daunting the problem seems and knowing where to begin. Identifying actionable items quickly and easily is key to motivating people. I can envisage the tools gamifying the issues.

I have to wonder how much granularity carbon tracking using the Mastercard/Visa API’s can provide, e.g. grocery shopping will probably be evaluated on a “typical basket” based on demographics so the advice won’t seem very personal (I know my shopping habits are very atypical for my demographic!). What we need in the longer term is for Mastercard/Visa to work with retailers, such as the big supermarkets, to be able to offer that very detailed personal analysis.

I’m going to be very interested to see how legacy banks, neobanks and other fintechs implement these API’s. The cynic in me says that legacy banks will try to use them to steal back customers they have lost to the challenger banks. Even worse, legacy banks might steer people to subscribe to expensive carbon offsetting plans which will provide them with a nice new income stream but with questionable outcomes for the environment. Cue a new great bank mis-selling scandal!

There are many problems with carbon offset programmes and I have yet to find one I’m entirely comfortable with. Most are not transparent, auditing is poor or non-existent, too much funding is lost to MITM fees and too many NGO’s working in this area rely on income from carbon offset payments (“consumer pays”) whereas, in fact, their work should be funded under the “polluter pays” principle or central governments. And whilst I completely appreciate the value in funding NGO projects in developing countries, I have to wonder why there are so few offsetting projects here in the UK or Europe. Again, the cynic in me says it’s because it would be too easy to “go have a look” and uncover the deficiencies in them. Above all, they are a form of greenwashing and don’t encourage people to switch to long term sustainable solutions.

My hope is that the neobanks and fintechs will take a more holistic view. Carbon offsetting is OK as a temporary (very temporary) stop gap but more importantly people need help to drill down into their lifestyle and expenditure to understand how their choices affect their carbon footprint. People will need help to identify better choices. I can see great value in an independent, robust tool that can provide a carbon tracking dashboard to monitor all your savings and investments and help you to evaluate new opportunities.

1 Like

TBH, I’m not sure payment service providers is in the best position to implement anything like this.

For example, spending the same amount of money in a supermarket buying a few beef stakes or a basket of fruits and vegetables will have very different carbon footprints. More dramatically, paying for a train or a flight on a travel booking website is going to make a huge difference. But PSPs can’t see any of that, they can only see the name of the company and the category of the transaction.

1 Like