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DecarboNet: A Decarbonisation Platform for Citizen Empowerment and Translating Collective Awareness into Behavioural Change

DecarboNet project website, @DecarboNet


A lack of collective awareness negatively impacts perceived personal efficacy, which hampers efforts to address societal problems. DecarboNet is a multidisciplinary effort to tackle this problem by identifying determinants of collective awareness, translating awareness into behavioural change, and providing novel methods to analyse and visualise the underlying processes. The project’s core innovations are built around a context-specific repository of carbon reduction strategies. This “decarbonisation methodology” will increase awareness not only of existing problems, but also of best-practice solutions and the impact of individual actions. To continuously refine this repository, the collective awareness platform of DecarboNet will utilise citizen-generated content in a societal feedback loop that enables an adaptive process of social innovation.

Supporting and understanding this process at various levels of granularity requires significant technological advances, including (i) generic tools to co-create knowledge with on-the-fly recommendations of related content from multiple sources; (ii) a cross-platform social media application to provide eco-feedback and engage citizens in games with a purpose; and (iii) methods to measure and predict behavioural change, and to capture collective awareness in a quantitative framework based on diffusion models and resonance patterns in public discourse.

To assess engagement strategies, two use cases will contrast the effectiveness of competition-based and cooperative approaches in a grassroots experiment to measure energy consumption (Energy Quest) and a large-scale awareness campaign (Earth Hour). Analysing the results on the individual and collective level will provide actionable knowledge for a wide range of stakeholders. Associate partners including EEA, NOAA and the World Bank will provide a rich stream of input data and amplify the impact by promoting the adoption of project technologies among large user communities.

Contact: Kalina Bontcheva, Diana Maynard

Public Results


Addressing the societal challenge of climate change, DecarboNet’s vision is to:

  1. raise collective awareness of the problem and potential solutions;
  2. trigger citizen action and foster social innovation;
  3. catalyse grassroots movements to increase perceived personal efficacy;
  4. analyse the resulting change in behaviour; and
  5. provide actionable knowledge to policy makers and other stakeholders.

To investigate the complex interplay between individual rational behaviour and collective rationality in the climate change domain, DecarboNet will monitor (and trigger) behavioural change on the individual and the collective level, from small ad-hoc communities to established groups and large-scale engagement campaigns. The underlying assumption is that self-interest is positively influenced by collective involvement, and by linking people into a broader coalition of interests. This assumption will be verified computationally in three stages (building awareness, triggering behavioural change, monitoring the impact) that go beyond the traditional “collect, analyse and visualize” cycle of similar projects. The DecarboNet solution relies on social innovation by being social both in its end (addressing climate change) and in its mean (empowering citizens, encouraging social action and grassroots innovation).


Key Personnel in Sheffield

Project publications from the Sheffield team

Project funded by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Program - FP7-ICT-2013-10