I recently came back from two business trips to Dubai where I had the honor to speak as Head of the Judges of the Arabian CSR Awards, and New York where I spoke at the Social Media & CSR Conference, presented by Just Means, making the case for serious gaming. The Anti-Law of Jante (see my earlier blog in the ‘back to basics’ category) immediately came to my mind when the organizers told me that these were both ‘ sold out conferences. In both events there was a nice mix of male and female participants, coming from several sorts of organizations, many of the participants still pretty young. Are we finally all waking up?
This obvious new interest in Corporate Responsibility reminded me of this article in the International Herald Tribune* that caught my attention some two years ago, introducing a new abbreviation: “CRAG”, meaning “Carbon Rationing Action Group”, groups of volunteers (you may say on grass-roots level) that “aim to hold each other to account by imposing fines on members of the group who fail to keep their individual emissions under a certain quota”. This CRAG phenomenon has started in the UK, but I learnt that there are not only around 20 CRAGs with more than 160 individual members in the UK, but already many more that started in the U.S., in France and many places elsewhere. The members of the group define the rules, so fines are not common everywhere. A London 60 staff consultancy has also decided to voluntarily attempting to keep their personal annual emissions under the British average of 6.000 kilograms CO2. Some CRAG’s allow their members to roll over their credits accumulated during a low-carbon year to allow for occasional high-carbon indulgences like flights.
Two things are worth mentioning here. First, what would all of this be without transparency, both in terms of now being able to define allowed emissions for each individual (based on the available data), and secondly to be able to be held accountable based on the individual real consumption of CO2. These people test out new ways of living together, helping each other through learning, and last but not least can share experience with those who like the idea that every individual should have an emissions account in the future. Well, why not, if this system allows for some flexibility (where do you live, what are available options and barriers to access new technology, cultural differentiation, etc.)?
Secondly, this is the prototype of testing the possibility of the Anti-Law of Jante where the individual can show that a different world is possible without going back to Stone Age and that “the public perception that you’ve got to be rich to be green” is not true. Clearly, the major problem remains to “persuade the wider public that individual efforts, resulting in only microcosmic cuts, were worthwhile, particularly at a time when emissions are skyrocketing in other parts of the world like China”. I am convinced that we all need to start somewhere, why not starting a CRAG?
Why was I reminded of this article after having visited those two conferences, you may rightly ask? I think it’s been the many great new movements I saw at the Social Media conference, and observing that all those little groups of people can change the world and also build a business around themselves, as Paul Hawken has now also proven in ‘ The blessed unrest’, his book that makes the bold statement of the ‘quiet revolution’ in civil society. Linking examples like CRAG with the whole social media movement can open new waves of innovation and examples of co-creation.
* Neighbors agree: Thou shalt not emit, IHT, October 17, 2007, Page 1 and 10