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A scientific research by ClimateInteractive about the Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. It is a huge step for countries to propose carbon reduction goals in the Pairs agreement, but even with all the proposals fully implemented, humanity is still far away from a sustainable life. (see chart below) 


Greenhouse gas is also trash that we emitted into the atmosphere. We should take responsibilities to offset our own emissions, just like how we take care of trashes as mundane activities. What if decentralize the carbon offsetting responsibilities to individual level?


The gap between current carbon emissions and the Paris Climate Accord was made smaller by factories though carbon cap and trade, technologies inventions and carbon management. What if individuals can similarly reach the carbon emission goal through a personal carbon cap and trade, new technology innovations and personal carbon management? For those challenges The collective and bottom-up power are beyond measure.

System and Scenarios

I forecasted a fictional personal carbon economy system in the near future which is based on the investigations of several current economy systems. In order to understand carbon as a potential economy and value system, I investigated the global economy of recycling to help me identify players, elements and social behaviors for carbon value system and economy. I understand the current carbon trade policies, regulations and incentives though California’s industry Carbon Cap & Trade system; I involved resources and energy sharing concept into carbon from the sharing economy. Researching those three systems adds complexity and depth to my fictional personal carbon economy. 


At the same time, I investigated carbon sequestration technologies from industrial applications and labs, and then extrapolated them into individual entities based on their capacities. I tested available sequestration technologies: algae, which lead to my piece on algae jackets of Skin Farming. 


Based on the three current economy systems and carbon sequestration technologies, I designed a series of scenarios of interactions with carbon currency and personal carbon cap in four perspectives: political policy and regulation, mundane currency experience, global business and high-end consumer products. Those scenarios bring audiences to this possible carbon future by seeing how various current social groups and cultures are fed into the personal carbon economy system.




I expressed those interactions through physical artifacts which bring the future scenarios closer to today’s world. They have the power to transport the carbon economy future to my audience through presence, touch or even wear.  

As they say, The future is already here, but not evenly distributed. Some dystopia futures we envisioned are someone’s real live in some regions today. Anthropocene challenges need more action than awareness. It is hard to translate awareness into action but design can nudge change by preparing people mentally and physically through visuals and experiences. The scenarios I created are intended to get people mentally prepared for action. The functional artifacts are for physical preparation for taking actions. This is a small step toward turning awareness into action and will become a catalyst for change. 


The functional artifacts can be made into products today and have the possibility to turn my audience into users. I’d love to call those functional future products: actionable matters, which invite viewers to participate and experience the future world and its value system. They are not only meant to critique the irresponsible present mentality, but also to bring possible utopian future solutions closer to today by preparing people for change, mentally and physically.

More ambiguously, if those products can inspire others to make similar products or even put them into the market now or in near future, there will be a group of people purchasing them and using them to offset carbon emissions. When repeating carbon offset behavior becomes a ritual for subcultures; then add scale and time, it will eventually cultivate a mainstream culture that marches towards a carbon sustainable life.

Actionable Matters

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