Personal Footprint Account – degrowth conference 2014 – open space presentation
New slides, texts
Foresight is an anticipatory and controled process to
prepare for future developments. Foresight comprises a
set of methods to forecast trends and to build future
The talk/session intends to collaborate on the concept of
a personal account system for footprint tracking as one
possible solution element to realize effective and
Today: Only a tiny minority of consumers
transforms insight into real behavior ("ethical
consumption"). Also rebound effects weaken the
Urgent question: How to change the mainstream
Example of footprint aspects, source: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/2013_infographic/
The Personal Footprint
Account (PFA) is a tool to
measure and display the
ecological effects of the
behavior. Concept study, UXD ( user experience design) for an PFA app.
Mobile end device desplaying footprint dimensions in realtime. Behavioral navigator screen. Creative Commons BY – Willi Schroll
The effective behavioral change for
sustainable lifestyle patterns –
on a mass scale.
Behavioral tool: PFA will
display the eco footprint,
per capita, possibly for
everyone in the future.
Mobile devices like smart
phones might also allow
for realtime monitoring in
An infrastructure for measuring, delivering and
managing the footprint data has to be built.
Good news: With the technolgical progress
ahead the costs will decrease in the next years
Civilisation has learned to behave “economically
rational” – with the ubiquity of pricing, accounting, bank
accounts, a “saving culture”.
This success principle can be applied to the next
stage, the civilisation following principles of
sustainability and resilience. We need to behave
“ecologically rational” – and tools will help us to do so.
In the same way as a bank account cannot
have a debt beyond a certain limit, the IFA will
effectively change the behavior.
● Case travel decision: The carbon limit is reached for this
year, it will be very costly to take another flight
● Case shopping clothes: The social balance sheet as a
part of the IFA shows that you are “in debt” (e.g.
working conditions of garment workers).
● Data input (bar code, NFC, GPS, sensors)
● Calculating partial footprints
● Infrastructure (analogy to credit card system)
● The next stage of ICT, the Internet of Things, might
be part of the infrastructure
● The infrastructure can be built successively, e.g.
starting with the CO2 footprint
● Big Data, surveillance,
○ but: privacy by design is possible (example: the privacy safe
design of tollcollect Germany)
○ as in economy: even fuzzy data have an effect in the decision
process and hence optimize the flow of ressources, values and
materials – into the direction of sustainable use of ressources
○ the costs will decrease (miniaturisation, Moores Law, sensor
empowered smartphones, spreading of IoT)
○ Eco dictatorship?
■ “soft” dictatorship (social pressure)
■ politicians stepping aside
■ “technocratic” corporations like Google increase power
○ tech vision – “nerd solution”
○ fatal evolution to “dehumanized people”, depending more and
more on technological systems
○ more tracking and surveillance, less privacy
● Risk: “Libertarian paternalism”; see: “Nudge” by Richard Taylor
● Emotion/empathy instead of appealing to ratio – (see Charles
Eisenstein, Jeremy Rifkin)
● Instead of a “system solution” we should create a new mentality +
There was a hint from the group about a concept, that is also directed to the
● Energiebank – An energy political project in Switzerland for decreasing the
energy / CO2 footprint: Targetting the “2.000 Watt Society” – 2.000 Watt
Image source: http://www.energiebankschweiz.ch/?id=5
The concept of a “third way” is rather
clear – but not new. The questions
● Is this model of the “Economy
for the Common Good”
● Is this “movement” able to
spread in the environment of a
● So far nearly 1.700 enterprises
and 5.800 consumers apply the
Image source: sldie 4 in report (pdf): http://www.bsl-lausanne.ch/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/BSL-_Economy-of-the-Common-Good.pdf
The “Economy for the Common
Good” applies footprint bilancing on
the level of the enterprise. Being
sustainable in a proven way results
in a higher score. Enterprises
compete for sustainability factors,
esp. the social dimension
● human dignity
● social justice
● ecological sustainability
Image source: sldie 7 in report (pdf): http://www.bsl-lausanne.ch/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/BSL-_Economy-of-the-Common-Good.pdf
Experiences and insights
shared during a project for
Business School Lausanne:
“Common Good Matrix
The PFA vision can be extended into
certain directions for usage scenarios
There are more sensors not only on
personal mobile devices, but in the future
there will be also more sensors/data
tracking in the physical surroundings (IoT,
smart things, Ambient Intelligence). This
will make the tracking of various footprint
sources more simple (but will also
increase the risk of surveillance)
Image component from source: http://cloudtweaks.com/2014/09/cloud-infographic-internet-things
Social and gamified PFA
Analogous to collaborative communities
the PFA users can connect for increasing
their efficiency together – there might be
platforms built to enable “group action”
for degrowth like gardening, low PF
activities (in the same way as we have
platforms for “group buying” today); also
gamification can be used as it is done in
the domain of communities around fitness
gadgets (“Quantified Personal Degrowth”
= Quantified Self for degrowth) Image 1, snippet from source: http://www.fitbit.com/
Image 2, source: http://blog.thedetroithub.com/2011/08/31/compuware-plants-new-
Nations and regions are locked in competition-for-growth trap
Worldwide the politicians cannot advance into certain reasonable
directions, since the economies are competing for best conditions for
enterpreneural actors and investors. As a result this dilemma is a
barrier for sustainable politics (less economical growth, degrowth) on a
International Simultaneous Policy Organisation (ISPO)
ISPO has been founded in 2000 to to break this lock-in situation. ISPO
is a voluntary organization that promotes the “Simultaneous Policy”
(Simpol) campaign: Coordinated decisions of politicians can break the
fatal blockade for international treaties. A roadmap for a PFA can use
the SIMPOL mechanism to avoid local disadvantages.
ISPO, International Simultaneous Policy
Organization (logo) http://en.wikipedia.
Why should people agree with restrictions and with the
“rationing” of ressources?
In the rich countries the masses are used to their “anti-sustainable
priviliges”, they live with a huge ecological footprint, e.g. in the
domain of consumption of goods and far distance travelling. Sure,
the acceptance is a central issue.
First, the parallels are accepted restrictions in the field of health or
mobility: Citizens allow for laws, that are applied equally, e.g.
using saftey belts, speed limits, preventive medicine, vaccination
Second, globally the awareness for the necessity and willingness
for implementation of PFA is not equally distributed. As a
consequence the implementation/roadmap will be geographically
differentiated as e.g. today’s tax laws are. Example of global cultural differentiation in case of social
inequality (map fo Gini coefficient) http://en.wikipedia.
Ecological debt, interest rates, progressive compensation?
The concrete structure for an “acceptable differentiated PFA scheme” is
a real design challenge.
One option is a progressive PFA compensation scheme, analogous to
(accepted) progressive taxation. There could be a kind of interest rates
for personal “ecological debt”, analogous to debt in the financial domain.
This means, that e.g. another transatlantic travel ticket in a one year period might cost 2 or 3 times
more than the “annual eco-correct ticket”, the fee then is used for reforestation. How could this be
implemented in an elegant way, avoiding the growth of a huge bureaucracy apparatus for rules,
exceptions, observation and control?
Instead of building huge administrative control structures the focus
should be on a post-consumerist “positive lifestyle vision” with a small
footprint. It will be adopted and convincing as much as it actually creates
more happiness and satisfaction in the personal life. On a mass level
also a big challenge!
● I encourage sharing and supporting the creative commons
○ This presentation is published under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
○ The author should be quoted if you use the slides. Consider the copyright for the graphics and photos
on the slides, that have been quoted for illustrative function in the scientific context.
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● The title, cover and presentation slides have been changed and the deck has been enriched with graphics to illustrate the concept.
○ “Individual Footprint Account” (IFA) has been renamed to “Personal Footprint Account” (PFA), since the commonly used term is
○ The original was hacked in short time, since the decision to run an open space was spontaneous. A rough copy of the original
slidedeck is here: http://j.mp/indifp-old
○ Thanks to the participants for being part and for the critical remarks
● Related links
○ Degrowth conference http://leipzig.degrowth.org/en/
○ Ecological footprint (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecological_footprint
○ Footprint Network http://footprintnetwork.org/
○ Degrowth (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth
○ List of environmental issues (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_environmental_issues
○ Anthropocene (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene
● Shortlink to presentation slides on Google docs: http://j.mp/indifootprint
● Contact: http://about.me/wschroll – willi.schroll/at/googlemail.com