This Credit Card By Doconomy Sets A Carbon-Emission Spending Limit

"What we have done is taken one limit that everyone respects, the credit limit, and replaced it with one that we all need to understand, the planetary limit."
Mathias Wikström
CEO, Doconomy

Seems like we cannot get enough of the 2020 D&AD’s awards. Only last month, we caught up with one of the contenders, Dhruvil Shah, who pitched the idea of imperfect but consistent sustainability efforts for the planet – Being Wegan. And this month, on our radar, we have ‘DO Black – The carbon emission limit’ that has won multiple pencils at the awards including one for the ‘creative use of data’.

Created by Doconomy, a Sweden-based think tank that provides digital tools to reduce individual CO2 impact, the idea was to solve the pain point of calculating the carbon footprint of individual items that are purchased. The designed solution is simple yet brilliant – a credit card that not only helps customers track and measure their carbon dioxide emissions in connection to the bought items, but also sets a limit on how much they can consume. The credit limit is not monetary but rather, it is calculated in CO2 kg.

This increased transparency leads to DO Black contributing to a more sustainable future by holding individuals accountable for their own actions and consumption. This knowledge and data then drives them to make demands for more sustainable products. As soon as consumers pick up this eco-consciousness, it becomes an important currency for the companies to transact in as well. For this project, Doconomy collaborated with the UN Climate Convention as well as Mastercard. To know more, Ayushi Shah had a quick chat over email with CEO Mathias Wikström who facilitated this intersection of design and climate change solutions:

Photo: Doconomy
Photo: Doconomy
Photo: Doconomy

Ayushi Shah (AS): Could you tell us more about the design and the make of the DO Black card?

Mathias Wikström (MS): So, the carbon limit idea is based on the concept of putting a radical stop to the issue. By enabling the user to spend with a 50 % reduction, we can help them meet the 2030 targets as stipulated in the IPCC report. The card is made out of biodegradable material – what is the point in making a climate-friendly card in plastic? It is also made without a magnetic stripe to further lessen the impact of our production. In addition to that, through a unique collaboration, the card will be printed with Air-Ink in future releases. The card is labelled with both the Mastercard logo as well as the United Nations Global Climate Action logo to illustrate the ambition to create alliances of those willing to address the climate crisis.

AS: In an interview, you said that the idea for the card was not to stop people from spending but to start understanding. Could you elaborate on this idea?

MS: It is correct. If we only stop or reduce old behaviors instead of replacing them with new insight-driven behaviors, the risk is that we will not achieve sustainable change. Our ambition is to educate people around the environmental impact of their actions so that everyone can draw their own conclusions. We are the pathfinders for everyday climate action, not the police. We believe that with the right information, the user will make decisions based on their own insights instead of just the need to be compliant. This, in turn, also creates more committed ambassadors for the need to reduce the environmental impact as well as increase responsibility.

AS: What is the vision for this credit card? What do you hope it achieves?

MS: The vision for this card is to serve as a tangible tool for the climate-smart. A radical version of what needs to be done to reduce the environmental impact. In short, what we have done is taken one limit that everyone respects, the credit limit, and replaced it with one that we all need to understand, the planetary limit. It is more important that everyone track, measure and reduce their impact than that they use the cards. However, if the card can assist in educating the user then that is a perfect match. At the end of the day, it is quite naïve to not understand that every action has a reaction, in finance as well as in nature. We hope to limit the negative impact and enable positive change in behavior.

AS: Lastly, what is the future of this card? Is it a prototype or it is available now?

MS: In Sweden, the DO card has been launched with the ability to track, measure and offset your carbon footprint. It was important for us to get the card with calculation functionality out first and then complement it with the DO Black carbon emission limit version. A fantastic side effect of the concept is that over 150 banks in the world has reached out to also enable their users with the ability to track and measure their carbon footprint. And today, banks representing 160,000,000 users are negotiating terms for launching this function in their markets already. DO Black showed the world it could be done and now creative disruption and rewiring the financial tools don’t seem to be such radical ideas after all.

This interview had been edited and condensed for clarity.

I'm Ayushi Shah and I co-founded Eco-Spotlight to tell stories of green innovation and remind the world (and myself) that there is hope for humanity and the planet. Reach out to me at ayushi (at) eco-spotlight (dot) com

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