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Full Title 

A Decarbonisation Platform for Citizen Empowerment and Translating Collective Awareness into Behavioural Change

Started on 

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The Open University (Coordinator) MODUL University Vienna (Scientific Coordinator)
Embedded thumbnail for DecarboNet
Embedded thumbnail for DecarboNet
Embedded thumbnail for DecarboNet
A Decarbonisation Platform for Citizen Empowerment and Translating Collective Awareness into Behavioural Change

DecarboNet investigates how social platforms can be used to raise people’s awareness of energy and climate change issues, and to turn this awareness into active engagement for reducing the carbon footprint, consuming less energy, and improving climate resilience. In this way, DecarboNet aims to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, addressing one of the greatest threats to our planet.

Why is our project important? 

We are consuming more and more energy by the day. Studies show that although technology and information can help in bringing about a change in people’s energy consumption behavior, these alone do not guarantee a lasting result. What is therefore needed are ways to engage people more effectively to raise awareness of their own energy consumption, and to collectively identify and share methods to optimise this consumption. 

Simultaneously,  in order to tackle environmental problems, researchers are still trying to understand how people react to environmental messages, how people become aware of issues (e.g. their own energy consumption), and how changes in behavior could be  brought about and maintained. Insights to these questions are desperately needed in order to support environmental stakeholders and policy makers in their work and therefore increase the potential of achieving large scale behavioral change.

Through the activities within DecarboNet, the participating researchers aim to find answers to these questions by working with online and offline communities who will make use of the technologies developed in the project. By monitoring and analysing the impact and use of our technologies, we intend to provide actionable knowledge for stakeholders, such as the Earth Hour Campaign, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Climate Program Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

What are our goals? 

  • Increase awareness among citizens about the long­term impact of their actions on energy consumption and climate change.
  • Make behaviour change possible with the use of a collaborative portal and a social media application that support long-term engagement of citizens, increasing their environmental awareness and changing their energy consumption habits.
  • Collect insights from monitoring the use of DecarboNet tools and help policy makers and environmental stakeholders in their strategic decisions regarding the awareness and perception of environmental issues, and related behavioural patterns. 

Initiatives, tools and services we have already launched 

  • Energy Toolkit:An easy to use and fun paper-based tool to engage everyone in the family to find energy saving opportunities in the home. In the end, one of your household members can become the Energy Champion. 
  • The Media Watch on Climate Change is a knowledge aggregator that is continuously updated with information on climate change and related environmental issues from a wide range of English, French and German online sources (news media, social networking platforms, companies and environmental organizations). A visual dashboard provides access to climate change knowledge, helps analyze stakeholder perceptions, and tracks emerging trends of discussions and news being reported all around the world on the topic of climate change. A YouTube video shows a presentation of the tool at the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP-19). 
  • The Climate Resilience Toolkit  includes tools, information, and expertise to help people and communities manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events. DecarboNet information services helped to improve the search function of the Toolkit, including a new method to identify locations, persons and organizations in documents automatically, and align these entities with external knowledge sources such as Wikipedia.
  • Information services developed or extended through DecarboNet provide important building blocks of the publicly accessible applications. These services include  ClimateMeasure to extract useful indicators of climate change such as "energy use", "carbon pollution", etc. for particular locations, together with measurable effects such as percentages, measurements etc. and the relevant dates. The extensible Web Retrieval Toolkit (eWRT) supports the consortium in various data collection tasks, such as retrieving data from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter (see GitHub resources and the the online documentation). The webLyzard API contains annotation services such as Recognyze for named entity linking the Sentiment Analysis and a class for parsing its XML-format (see GitHub resources and the preliminary online documentation). 
  • The Media Watch on Climate Change is a comprehensive and continuously updated knowledge repository on climate change and related environmental issues. The dashboard provides interactive means to access this repository, analyze stakeholder perceptions, and track emerging trends. It collects, filters, annotates and visualizes documents from a wide range of English, French and German online sources (news media, social networking platforms, Web sites of Fortune 1000 companies and environmental organizations).
  • Gamification application for raising collective awareness towards climate change. The game combines practical steps to reduce your carbon footprint with questions about future climate-related conditions that we cannot answer today, but will be able to answer in the future

Initiatives, tools and services we are still working on 

  • Climate Challenge, A social media application in the tradition of games with a purpose to engage citizens, increase awareness and trigger behavioural change. 
  • A collaborative Web portal to engage people with energy quests to raise awareness and incentivise behaviour change towards energy consumption.  
  • A portfolio of analytical methods to detect and visualise behaviour patterns will be provided to environmental stakeholders and policy makers
  • Citizen Engagement Platform: An online platform for citizens to compare the energy consumption of various appliances at home, and to debate and share tips on how to consume less energy.

Who will benefit from our project? 

  • Citizens interested in climate change can use the Media Watch on Climate Change to investigate risk awareness and perceptions around the world, as they are reported in different media. In addition, individuals or families can use the Energy Toolkit to better understand their own household energy consumption and find ways to save energy in the home. When launched, citizens will benefit from using the social media application as it helps them to increase their knowledge, share it with their peers, and make energy saving part of their lifestyle. They will also be able to use the DecarboNet portal to engage with others in Energy Quests and energy debates.
  • Businesses can use the Media Watch and the Climate Resilience Toolkit to better understand available options – i.e. help manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events (e.g. information about heavy rainfall resulting in flooding risk).
  • Resource managers, planners and policy makers at all levels of government can use both tools to be informed about the effects of climate change globally and the actions that should be taken by businesses, local governments and states to build resilience to climate change. When ready, the portfolio of analytical methods can be helpful for these stakeholders as it will inform about methods of behavioral change towards energy saving. 
  • Environmental organizations can make use of all our resources for their work to inform and plan campaigns.
  • Researchers and developers can benefit from using the innovative technologies developed in DecarboNet, adopting the provided information services and applying them to their own projects.

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