Open CO2 is a project to help crowdsource open carbon accounts for local communities worldwide. It can also be about carbon literacy, encouraging ourselves to learn more about what the available data might show. Questions such as who are the biggest polluters, who's making the most progress in CO2 reduction, what are the biggest challenges to communities going low carbon?
In spite of widespread concern about climate change the data which exists or should exist is barely visible, let alone visualized to be meaningful and helpful to concerned citizens and communities. The open data movement has led to great improvements in transparency and visualization of financial data and local data, eg via open 311. We can also improve our awareness of how local communties and cities are taking responsibility to move to a low carbon future.
As John Geraci points out in his blog "...a big issue I think is with the term: global warming. Anything that’s global is by definition Someone Else’s Problem... But... what if we broke it down, and started referring to it locally?"
The project started off an as idea to develop something in a UK context, where the data exists, but similar opportunites will become available for cities and countries across the world.
Open local carbon accounts would help make possible Participatory carbon budgeting
(earlier text - article needs forking and some rewriting)
What's the problem?
Although a range of CO2 emissions data appears to exist, the information on the whole tends to be held by government or quasi government institutions. This can lead to, or be perceived to lead to problems with reuse of information for the benefit of society and communities. The data is barely visible. Few people probably are aware of its existence in spite of widespread concern about climate change. Government at all levels, but especially local government, can be risk-averse in putting out information which they perceive to be influential on their image.
What's the proposal?
- A website with information and data available on ordinary web pages (not spreadsheet docs, or PDFs) by location. The website will enable people to see the whole picture from the personal, through local and national to international data in a clear and consistent way.
- Website to include open forum for discussing contentious issues such as the fair and equitable allocation of emissions, and to enable the enrichment of this discussion with the wisdom of crowds
- To seek to provide whatever may increase the options of ensuring all the data is available for reuse
- To provide a framework within which citizens could make sense of the myriad of personal carbon footprint calculators on offer. The proposal is not about any sort of compulsion for all citizens to track their emissions, but just to provide a meaningful framework for those that wish to take responsibility for their carbon footprint.
- To preserve trust in the independence and impartiality of the site, and to prevent manipulation by government or any sectional or vested interests, it should be run by a civil society group or network
How would this help?
- The data would be more visible
- Greater transparency and accountability
- If reuse was facilitated, anyone would be free to use the data in creative and innovative ways to the benefit of both local communities and wider society.
- It would encourage local communities to take more responsibility for their own carbon emissions
- it would facilitate Participatory carbon budgeting
- it would enable citizens to have more confidence in using personal carbon foot print calculators and to be able to relate their personal results to local community data
- it would enable communities and wider society to discuss potentially contentious issues such as the carbon footprint of commuting
- some local councils thanks to initiatives such as the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change have laudable and challenging CO2 reduction targets. Linking target information with readily available baseline information would enable councils to get more credit for their own initiatives.
Fundamental Open Rights
Arguments made on behalf of Open Data  include:
- "Data belong to the human race". Typical examples are genomes, data on organisms, medical science, environmental data.
- Public money was used to fund the work and so it should be universally available.
- It was created by or at a government institution (this is common in US National Laboratories and government agencies)
- Facts cannot legally be copyrighted.
- Sponsors of research do not get full value unless the resulting data are freely available
- Restrictions on data re-use create an anticommons
- Data are required for the smooth process of running communal human activities (map data, public institutions)
- In scientific research, the rate of discovery is accelerated by better access to data.
Data from non-governmental sources
- List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions W
- List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita W
Tweak 1 - Focusing on the positive
In addition to the above the project could, depending on available data, focus on more positive aspects of transition to low carbon communities. This might include for example declines in emissions since 2005, local and renewable energy sources, etc.
Tweak 2 - a better name and model?
"Where does our co2 come from?" Aiming to do for carbon accounts what Where Does My Money Go? does for financial accounting, but with a particular emphasis on carbon accounts for local communities. So the aim would be to promote transparency and citizen engagement through the analysis and visualisation of information about UK's national and local carbon footprint.
This proposal is intended to meet the aims of apps for sustainability, but of course is in need of collaborative development.
- Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network, climate data
- Debategraph, editable wiki debate visualization tool, includes a climate change (debate) map
- Sandbag, using the power of the internet to open the issue of emissions trading up to public scrutiny
- City Climate Catalogue, Copenhagen world catalogue of city commitments to combat climate change
- Open Data W