Cities as Labs of Transformation
REACT aims to buy time for the worldwide transition to green technologies by involving ordinary people. For this REACT is working towards understanding and overcoming typical individual barriers to climate action. Research suggests the following as the main barriers:
1. Lack of knowledge about the dominant role of individual consumption in driving climate change.
2. Confusion about which consumption areas lead to substantial greenhouse gas emissions.
3. Perceived remoteness of climate change impacts in high-income countries.
4. Perceived pointlessness of individual actions if they are not part of a large-scale effort.
Hypothesis 1: These barriers can be negated by gradually and repeatedly exposing people to the four factors of influence: Information, Consequences of Inaction, Education and Participation.
After each wave of influence, REACT assesses the knowledge growth and response of different groups of society through public interviews and response tracking systems, and estimates the power of each factor to promote individual action.
The ultimate goals of REACT are to guide the development of consumption policies, prepare the general public mentally for their implementation, and produce materials for country-wide mass communication and school education in all partner countries.
Factors of influence
The four factors of influence respond to the perceived barriers to individual action. They are introduced in waves with a frequency of six months. While tracking public responses and assessing knowledge growth in each neighbourhood and each layer of society, REACT analyses the relative efficiency of each method and their combinations.
Factor 1: Information
REACT will produce films exploring the predicted natural, social, economic and political consequences of climate change. Separate films will be produced for different parts of the demographic (age groups, gender, area) in different partner countries. The responses of each social group will be anonymously tracked through response tracking systems.
REACT films will emphasize the urgency and power of individual actions, explain the large role of consumption and which actions must be the priority to limit climate change dangers. REACT will combine science with art and elements of advertising to trigger emotional responses by making climate change impacts appear locally relevant and giving the power to ordinary people. REACT actors are ordinary people from different neighbourhoods of partner cities – people who shop in the same supermarkets, live on the same streets, and go to the same schools, as the target audience.
City-scale information: Social media campaigns using a range of advertising tools on social media
Factor 2: Consequences of Inaction
REACT is developing an interactive Virtual Reality (VR) tool to demonstrate the local near-future climate change consequences. The VR will place people in the middle of disastrous predictions of climate change impacts on their homes, cities and life comfort, and will allow them to interactively navigate to a better or worse future through choices of individual climate change actions or the absence of such. The final destination (best-case scenario) for those succeeding in reducing their carbon footprint by 45% is a future city designed by The Venus Project. The VR will also help the people visualize their environments after taking climate change actions, thus reducing the anxiety deriving from insecurity.
Consequences of inaction: Virtual reality exhibitions in shopping malls
Factor 3: Education
Working together with school teachers and teacher education students, REACT combines learning materials, films, the carbon footprint concept, interactive VR and planetarium to introduce a multifaceted climate change education at universities and schools. REACT takes families and friends of school children and students to the planetarium to enable public participation in the interactive VR experience and motivate parents to support their children in taking immediate action.
Central to the REACT-reviewed teaching is the focus on understanding the complex relationships between economy, politics, human actions and climate change. Understandig the drivers of climate change will help the public understand how to counter it.
Education: Climate change lessons at selected schools, virtual reality -labs and planetarium sessions with families and friends
Factor 4: Participation
REACT will maintain a hyperbolized visibility of the collective action on a city scale in all partner countries through mass media, public website and app. Our work with journalists and mapping of participation during public exhibitions, through website and app will aim at creating a feeling of belonging to a large movement and mimic the effect of consumption policies, albeit with a stronger emotional involvement. To facilitate exchange of opinions and physical experience of growing participation, REACT will gather ordinary people during tree planting campaigns coordinated together with city authorities and advertised widely by public media.
Hypothesis 2: Visibility of the growing participation on the international level will amplify the public response in each partner city and will further promote interest of journalists across partner countries.
Participation: Hyperbolized visibility of growing participation on city- and global scales
How REACT’s influence can spread across the city (an example of Trondheim, Norway).
Hypothesis 3: Factor 4 has the strongest power to engage the public, but Factors 1-3 are the major tools for building and growing participation.
Target cities: Medium-size university cities are a perfect platform for the REACT implementation.
Measuring the Impact
Prior to and after each wave of REACT’s influence (Information, Consequences of Inaction and Education), our teams will evaluate the general knowledge related to the anticipated local climate change impacts and individual actions through public interviews in each neighbourhood. Questions from the pool developed by our environmental psychologists, weighted according to the depth of required knowledge, will be randomly shuffled, and the correctness of answers documented and measured. All interviews and analyses will be carried out by teams of students as mandatory assignments.
Students are our driving force and tangible power: REACT unites and transforms many existing environmental movements within universities into one targeted effort.
Tracking Public Responses
REACT will track public responses in each neighbourhood and city (anonymously) through the social media statistical tools, the national public websites and apps (based on Oroeco, developed and adapted for the use in partner countries).
Information: The number of website visits and app downloads versus the number of clicks on the REACT films on social media.
Consequences of Inaction: The number of website visits and app downloads in the neighbourhoods where VR exhibitions take place versus the number of participants in the VR experience.
Education: Personalized work with the families of the school children and deviating trends in the website visits and app downloads in the neighbourhoods where test schools are located.
Participation: The impact of growing participation on different neighbourhoods and its associations with the other three factors of influence will be analysed and projected into the future using cluster analysis and artificial neural networks (ANNs) combined with a genetic algorithm for extraction of decision trees.