Potential Climate Benefits of Digital Consumer Innovations

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Do digital consumer innovations help reduce carbon emissions? The SILCI team scoured the literature for studies that quantified impacts on activity, energy, or emissions as a result of using digital consumer innovations. They focused on 33 innovations across mobility, food, homes and energy domains – ranging from shared ride-hailing apps and digital farmers’ markets to smart home technologies and ‘demand response’ (domestic appliances temporarily powering down when electricity prices spike). Synthesising data from almost 200 studies, the team found clear and consistent evidence of potential emission reduction benefits. They also identified common elements of consumer appeal across a diverse range of digital innovations: making use of surplus, using not owning, being more in control, customising choice, and integrating into systems. The paper is published in Annual Review of Environment and Resources and is also available as a preprint for download here.