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Canada’s new VISA card features carbon emissions tracker

'Climate awareness, education, and behavioral nudging'

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Yudi Sherman

Yudi Sherman

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November 25, 2022

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01:48 AM

Canada’s new VISA card features carbon emissions tracker

A Canadian credit union now issues its customers VISA credit cards which track the carbon emissions resulting from their purchases. 

Vancouver City Credit Union, known as Vancity, introduced the product last month as part of its “commitment to climate action.” Vancity partnered with climate technology company ecolytiq to develop the card, which not only tracks customers’ carbon emissions but also tells them how they can remedy their actions. 

“The ecolytiq solution combines climate awareness, education, and behavioral nudging in its tool for financial institutions,” said Vancity in a statement

VISA follows Mastercard, who partnered with Swedish FinTech firm Doconomy in 2019 to develop a Carbon Calculator for banks around the world, reports The Epoch Times

While Vancity’s Carbon Counter may be Canada’s first, it trails other countries who have already rolled out similar products. 

A mobile app feature from Australia’s Commonwealth Bank unveiled last year tracks the carbon footprints of its customers based on their transactions. The app then analyzes the customer’s carbon footprint, including how many trees were destroyed by the customer’s behavior. As reported by America’s Frontline News, the customer is notified within the app and is offered the opportunity to pay to offset the harm they caused the environment.  

CommBank told America’s Frontline News that the atonement is accomplished when the customer purchases Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). An ACCU is a financial instrument issued by Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator for the abatement of carbon emissions and represents one carbon ton removed from the atmosphere. 

The technology used by CommBank was developed by CoGo, an environmental tech startup which builds similar products for individuals and businesses for internal use. CoGo currently offers a similar app in which individuals can connect their bank account and learn how many carbon emissions they are guilty of based on their transactions.  

America’s Frontline News reported that Dutch bank Rabobank already rolled out a mobile application earlier this year called Carbon Insights in which bank customers can track their CO2 impact with each purchase. In August, Rabo Carbon Bank CEO Barbara Baarsma proposed a limit be placed on citizens’ carbon emissions, which would be tracked via their transactions and purchases. People would then be able to sell any unused “carbon credits” to others. 

Like Vancity’s Carbon Counter, CommBank’s carbon emissions tracker only estimates your carbon emissions based on general data on the environmental impact of different types of transactions. 

But technology that can monitor each individual transaction – and activity – for its carbon footprint may not be long in coming. 

In May, Chinese company Alibaba Group announced at the World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual conference that it was working on similar technology that would track humans’ activities and gauge how much carbon they were emitting. This carbon tracking technology is a big step towards realizing the WEF’s vision for 2030 that “polluters will have to pay to emit carbon dioxide. There will be a global price on carbon.”   

Some are concerned these carbon trackers are just the first step to a climate-based social credit system, which Dr. Aaron Kheriaty illustrated in a series of tweets.  

“Imagine a few years hence you receive the following text on your phone,” he wrote on Twitter.   

“A notification explains that your carbon footprint is 23% above others in your age/race category in your geographic region. It informs you that you have eighteen months to transition to an electric vehicle; otherwise, you will be taxed an additional $0.90 per gallon of gas. While that gas tax is steep, you default to that ‘option’ because you cannot afford an electric vehicle.  

“After another six months, you receive another notification that your individualized carbon footprint tax will double to $1.80 per gallon of gas...which hurts even more but does not change your financial prospects for a new electric car. A year later, an algorithm in the cloud decides that, since you have still not converted to an electric vehicle, you now simply cannot buy gas.”    

The medical ethics expert then noted how this has already begun to be deployed during the pandemic, chiefly with the use of vaccine passports.    

“The biomedical security state will soon have the infrastructure in place for policies of this kind, including digital IDs and central bank digital currencies,” he concluded. “These will be tied to digital health passport systems already tested and deployed during the pandemic.” 

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