View this email in your browser

Hello, this is the Co-op Digital newsletter.

[Image: ABC 10 News/Carolyn Kaster/AP]


Biden and Harris: a new era, and with it hope that America and politics will become less divisive and chaotic, and more constructive. His inauguration speech.

How much carbon is in your shopping basket?

How are the UK supermarkets doing with their climate change plans? Comparing them can be a bit difficult because the terms used and benchmarks chosen vary - carbon neutral, net zero, carbon negative, legacy carbon, absolute reductions, carbon free/zero carbon, 100% renewable, which year’s used as a baseline for comparison, emissions scope, etc. The newsletter will dig into what these terms mean in future.

But for now, here are the climate/carbon plans of the larger supermarket businesses in the UK, mostly through the lens of carbon emissions and when they see themselves getting to “carbon net zero”. Net zero means: the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere by your organisation is balanced by the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere by your organisation’s carbon offsets and carbon reduction programmes.

M&S and Aldi are probably leading, though a net zero emissions date is just one aspect of a sustainability/climate plan. Every supermarket is taking action, and they can all do more. Reading their reports, you can see that net zero (or carbon neutrality) is achieved with both emissions reduction and carbon offsetting (funding projects that plant trees etc). After that, the big step is to keep reducing emissions and get an organisation to “zero carbon”.

Wider context: most of these supermarkets are working with British Retail Consortium’s climate action roadmap toward net zero by 2040. And the government’s net zero carbon target for the UK as a whole is 2050, Scotland’s is 2045.


Is everyone is a key worker?

Watching the news gives you new appreciation for the work of everyone in the NHS and in social care. And homeschooling gives you new appreciation for the work of teachers. Critical work. But look around and you see key work everywhere. The warehousing and delivery staff that make convenient online shopping work. People in call centres doing contact tracing. Supermarket staff. Funeral directors. People working in utilities, and those keeping the broadband going. Farmers. The list is long. Many of them have hard work, and often difficult working or employment conditions (zero hours), and they usually go somewhat unnoticed and unsung.

The UK Gov’s list of key workers is here, and reading it you go “oh yes, those too” but maybe you also wonder if the key work should be wider than that. The economy is highly interconnected, and many are indirectly doing key work, creating the conditions for the key work to happen. So perhaps everyone’s a key worker, though that’d be stretching it for newsletter writers. Salute to the key workers. Salute emoji

Elsewhere the UK government has released a new TV advert which shows tired doctors, nurses and patients all PPE-ed up. It asks “Can you look them in the eyes?” and targets those being casual about or ignoring lockdown rules.


Policing Covid measures

“In line with the latest government guidance, we are enforcing the following measures to help keep you safe in-store. See for more details.”

Tesco will enforce Covid safety measures. All supermarkets are, to some extent. But the expectation that store workers should enforce rules on face masks sometimes leads to unintended side effects: social distancing rage triggers surge of attacks on supermarket staff.

Related: physical retail risks being at another disadvantage to online if it has to perform covid security.


Elsewhere in retail

Editorial note: long time reader Ben T pointed out that every newsletter has something about Amazon in it, which can get a bit, you know, samey. Feedback makes the newsletter better. For you Ben, this newsletter is guaranteed Amazon-free. Salute emoji 

Hudson is an airport retailer that plans to automate its checkouts, which might mean a Covid-safer shopping environment and reduced checkout staff costs. It’ll license the technology from some big online bookshop. But Hudson hasn’t yet said how many of its 1,000 stores will get it. Empty airports is probably a good time to do experiments.

Morrisons will pay minimum £10 an hour - from April.

Retail sales in 2020 'worst for 25 years' - a slump in demand for fashion and homeware during lockdown left many retailers struggling.


Two tough reads

The American Abyss - quite a fierce read on the Capitol invasion earlier this month. 

“Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves.”

This is what an 'overwhelmed NHS' looks like. We must not look away.

“The final stage, which London is now approaching, is where patient care is not just compromised but cannot be delivered. This won’t be dramatic and public - you won’t see patients refused entry to hospital or bodies on the street. It will take the form of doctors being forced to make impossible decisions about which patient can best benefit from a single spare ICU bed when many need one, or how long to wait for a very sick patient to improve before having the conversation with the family about withdrawing care. This is called rationing.”

(Loosely linking the two, Coronapolitics from the Reichstag to the Capitol is a long read tracing the links between "lockdown scepticism" and what happened at the Capitol.)


Is Bitcoin a battery?

Sometimes there is too much energy being generated. On a windy night, when demand is lower because everyone is tucked up in their beds, the turbines spin away making electricity that we don’t need. The electricity grid has to do “demand management” to avoid shoving too many electrons into the electricity pipes, and it temporarily switches off wind farms and gas plants etc.

There’s an idea that cryptocurrencies can help with electricity demand management: Bitcoin is a battery. You’d use excess energy generation capacity to mine Bitcoin. But this seems more like a cunning excuse for Bitcoin’s proof of work being massively energy intensive than it is a clever way of “storing energy”. Surely Bitcoin cannot be an actual battery because you can’t turn BTC back into energy? Maybe it’s a metaphorical battery: you can use it as money to buy electricity. Wouldn’t it be better to turn the excess electrical energy into a useful alternate energy form like hydrogen, or even (a few years down the line) “store” it in an actual battery? The newsletter would welcome corrections and opinions from clever readers.

(The newsletter will return to the topic of cryptos soon, because their prices and interest in them have increased rapidly recently. Again, opinions welcome.)


Co-op Digital news

Dave Cunningham wrote about the accessibility awareness training he's led on. It’s fondly known as “the leaky flour bag training” internally.

Nate Langley wrote about how we’re making sure teams’ objectives align with the Co-op vision. He talks about the importance of being able to zoom in and out and see the links between each building block.

Thank you for reading

Thank you friends, readers and contributors. Please continue to send ideas, questions, corrections, improvements, etc to @rod on Twitter. If you have enjoyed reading, please tell a friend! If you want to find out more about Co-op Digital, follow @CoopDigital on Twitter and read the Co-op Digital Blog. Previous newsletters.

Copyright © 2021 Co-op Digital, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp