Climate change is the result of a complex multi-faceted process of consumption.

Social entrepreneur, Richard Apps, talks to Jayne Flannery about The Carbon List, a unique business to consumer platform which is set to revolutionise the way companies communicate and promote their environmental achievements.

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Climate change is the result of a complex multi-faceted process of consumption. Concern over creating a sustainable future for the planet is a driving force of the 20th century. Purchasing decisions, both at the corporate and consumer level, are increasingly driven by perceptions of service and product providers approach to limiting their carbon footprint.

Companies the world over are taking action. Yet how can their environmental response be communicated to stakeholders, however excellent it may be? Wading through the dense jargon of a corporate report is unlikely to appeal to anyone without a deep professional interest. The burgeoning array of sustainability information corporate entities generate online passes largely unnoticed. Very few people have the time or motivation to use corporate websites as an information source and inevitably they are perceived as biased. Meanwhile, the coveted viral effect of social media is only accessible to a tiny handful of top consumer brands.

Richard Apps believes he can provide a unique interface between companies and consumers with The Carbon List, which launched in February 2011. “However well companies try to convey their environmental performance directly, the methods of promotion at their disposal are simply not in keeping with consumer behaviour,” he states.

“People want information on an unprecedented scale about the environmental impact of the companies whose products and services they use, but it has to be in a format that is accessible and easily understood,” he continues.

The Carbon List will present objective data from a multitude of companies in one place and in a simple, graphical form that will show key indicators of environmental performance at a glance. Critically, the site also offers visitors the facility to benchmark or compare the companies that impact on their lives.

After external verification The Carbon List takes in complex internal data through a simple back-end process and transforms it into a bite-size digestible format. “We use language, images and graphics people can readily understand to present key carbon metrics that we know from extensive research are what really drive human interest,” he explains.

As an analogy he describes The Carbon List as the Facebook of Carbon, a single-source information point on corporate environmental activity, which draws heavily on interaction with other social media forms to drive traffic to the site. “Companies have to acknowledge the transformation that social media has brought. Attention spans are decreasing all the time in favour of sharp, concise messages that can be conveyed very quickly. Our approach lies at the heart of the new way people access and absorb information.”

Like Facebook, The Carbon List can be customised however a client wants. “For example, one of our first clients, the UK Home Office, wants separate content to reflect the different strands of their activities. Others might want to use it to showcase a special environmental initiative or add links to their products or services,” he adds.

Another early adopter is telecommunications provider, Telefónica O2 UK Limited. “Working with The Carbon List allows O2 to give the public an unprecedented insight into how the company is not only a key broadband provider, but is also determined to contribute to environmental well-being and innovate in new product areas that will enhance life and save on energy, time and waste,” he explains.

“We see The Carbon List as a powerful agent of change and so are the first visionary companies that have signed up with us. O2 understand that a platform like The Carbon List can not only help to inform and retain their existing customers, but also inspire many other potential customers to join forces in the search for a more sustainable future.”

About Richard Apps

Richard Apps has a background in enterprise software development. His passion for The Carbon List stems from a desire to educate people about the companies who provide products and services that are an integral part of daily life and show how they are seeking to change their behaviour to create a more sustainable future. This in turn will help consumers to make better-informed decisions about the products and services they choose to buy.

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