I found this in a report from the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) written by Accenture titled ‘Collaborative Action on Climate Risk’. It dawned on me at dinner the other night with an old friend that this (above) is what frustrates me so much. This is what I want to reframe. Here the CDPs data is showing how the companies themselves have identified their largest opportunity to curb climate change into what I read as making the consumer feel responsible.

My friend brought up that she had regularly felt what she referred to as “Climate Guilt”. And that stuck with me. “Climate Guilt” as seen here in the industry report which undeniably reinforces selling that responsibility down the chain to, in essence, the lowest notch. The consumer. To my friend, making her feel “guilty”. It’s criminal. It’s despicable. It’s working. These efforts have shown progress is selling more ‘eco-friendly’ products at a higher bill. Duke Energy has gone as far as to use this directly in their marketing lingo: “saving the environment can be as easy as changing a light bulb.”

“Climate Guilt”

####The Light Bulb Problem

That’s where I stand my ground. “As easy as a light bulb” is so far from the truth it’s not even remotely funny. Our collective lightbulbs are not going to solve the global carbon emissions problem, and I don’t think anyone is really questioning that. I like to think of this as the ‘Light Bulb Problem’ — simply, that asking everyone to change a lightbulb is a lot easier than helping them understand how complex and global our supply chain is. A report from the Institute on the Environment titled ‘Supply Chain Energy Efficiency’ published in Aug, 2013 states:

“In the case of greenhouse gases (GHGs), companies seeking to reduce policy or reputational risks associated with these emissions often find that their direct emissions are dwarfed by the emissions in their supply chains. In fact, across industries, companies’ direct GHG emissions average only 14% of their supply chain emissions.” (pg 8)

####How do we help people not feel guilty?

  • Awareness is key, like in any campaign, keeping the consumer empowered with information is where the most exposure and opportunity can be gleaned

  • Build resonance with companies that do want to resolve the issue and talk with their customers about their “Climate Guilt”

  • Create steps people can make to help spread awareness, posting content, hosting events, etc.

  • Tools that help people mitigate their personal responsibility by possibly asking companies to match their contributions

  • Rebuttals to the “Light Bulb Problem”, providing policy makers with evidence to support this effort