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Hello, this is the Co-op Digital newsletter - it looks at what's happening in the internet/digital world and how it's relevant to the Co-op, to retail businesses, and most importantly to people, communities and society. Thank you for reading - send ideas and feedback to @rod on Twitter. Please tell a friend about it!

[Image: IPCC]

Code red for humanity

“Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report on climate change. The press release is here. The full report is here - very detailed, very doubled-checked. A good, quick version is the summary for policy makers - a punchy read. And a good third-party summary is here: The era of rapid climate change has begun.

Here is Co-operatives UK on the IPCC report:

“It’s clear ‘business as usual’ is not a viable response to the climate emergency. Global government action is needed, but we don’t have to wait. Businesses – and indeed every single one of us – can take action today to reduce our carbon footprint. Many of our co-operative members are already making changes – from The Co-op Group developing the first compostable plastic bag to Greencity Wholefoods trialling deliveries by electric trike to reduce diesel emissions. We want to see all businesses, from PLCs to community businesses, following suit to take action for climate change.”

Co-op Group and climate change: 

We know that our world has been borrowing from future generations, leaving them what we might euphemistically call a “carbon debt” that’s constantly growing and already hard to pay back. Delay kills and speed is everything. It’s warming rapidly, and almost everywhere. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Net zero carbon globally is needed as soon as possible. Carbon offsets aren’t going to be enough (some of those carbon-capturing forests are burning right now). Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. Fixing it means more than just fixing energy (ecosystem degradation, water shortages, food security, biodiversity loss and more are also critical), though fixing energy is a good place to start. 

You should improve the insulation of your home, yes, but the speed of response required means that the meaningful change will have to come from institutions. If you thought digital transformation was spiky and disruptive, wait til you see carbon transformation. It is going to feel like the sudden reinvention of many things we take as given today - jobs, education, housing, industry, families, society, the world. And it has to be done fairly, and we have to work so hard and so fast at it. Because home is always worth it. We have no choice.

Previously: climate change right in front of you, the climate/carbon plans of the larger supermarket businesses in the UK.  

Retail news

Lidl is launching a “scan as you shop” pilot in south west London - first scan-with-app move by a discounter?

Warhammer maker Games Workshop hands staff £5,000 bonus after lockdown sales surge - UK firm praises workers for “exceptional performance” during pandemic.

Woman sues McDonald's after Big Mac advert 'forced' her to break Lent - as she’s suing for the equivalent of £10, this seems like a PR opportunity for McDonald’s in Russia.

Interesting comment on supermarket executives joining NHS Test and Trace, ending with “Because surely maturing a new public health service needs a different kind of leadership to establishing new infrastructure and logistics at speed? It’s a bit like [Test and Trace] is perceived to be a massive pop-up shop, not a semi-permanent public service.”

Remote work works, if workers have power

Two views of remote work. If workers have some power, remote work unleashes productivity and places additional value on results, rather than managerial politics. A couple of quotes from it:

Remote work makes who does and doesn’t actually do work way more obvious. [...] Remote work empowers those who produce and disempowers those who have succeeded by being excellent diplomats and poor workers, along with those who have succeeded by always finding someone to blame for their failures. It removes the ability to seem productive (by sitting at your desk looking stressed or always being on the phone), and also, crucially, may reveal how many bosses and managers simply don’t contribute to the bottom line.

But if workers have no power, it probably looks different, maybe like this:

“For workers with little power – who lack either a union or a high-demand skill/experience mix – "work from home" is a thin euphemism for "live at work." Not only do you provide your boss with rent-free space in your home, he gets to colonize your whole house and family.”

That second quote is from a good and entertaining rant about power and warehouse, white collar and gig workers living in a work panopticon. Of course, employers with office workers are still working things out. Ocado will allow staff to work remotely from abroad for one month a year. Google is cutting pay for those who don’t go to the office on the grounds that “we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from” - raising the question of whether you could get a pay rise at Google by moving to Ashgabat in Turkmenistan.

Personalised funerals

Trend: personalising your funeral. First, the ceremony: "My wishes, my way" - how the rise of funeral personalisation is helping to celebrate the lives we live. Co-op research finds that 35m want their own farewell to be a celebration of the life they have lived. 75% of the nation who would like to have a funeral now feel comfortable talking about their wishes. 20% of Britons would like their coffin personalised.

Second, the memorial: cremations are increasingly popular, so it follows that it’s becoming more popular to turn someone’s ashes into a different and personal kind of memorial - stones, diamonds, vinyl records, soil… there’s a startup for every idea.

Previously: startups in life and end-of life planning.

Federated co-operation

Co-op Foundation and Luminate are partnering with Noisy Cricket and Paper Frogs to deliver the next phase of the Federation programme. Co-op alum Linda Humphries says:

“We’ll be challenging the ways tech and data reinforce inequalities and encouraging co-operation. We want digitally-enabled products and services that are inclusive, respect people’s rights and safeguard their privacy.”


Various things

Hundreds of AI tools have been built to catch covid. None of them helped. - Some have been used in hospitals, despite not being properly tested. But perhaps the pandemic could help make medical AI better.

NHS Data Injection: Will It Hurt? - Should British patients be worried about their medical data being placed in a central database?

The slow collapse of Amazon’s drone delivery dream - mass redundancies and job transfers as it winds down a huge part of its UK drone delivery business.

Some English schools are using AI to help students catch up after Covid-19 - the AI personalises learning.

Why apps get worse: “No Product Manager in history has ever said “This seems to be working pretty well, let’s leave it the way it is.” Because that’s not bold.” - the downside of bias to action? (and not all product managers, surely).

Co-op and Co-op Digital news

Reflections on the first year of our degree apprenticeships.

Thank you for reading

Thank you friends, readers and contributors. Please continue to send ideas, questions, corrections, improvements, etc by replying or 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 us @CoopDigital on Twitter and read the Co-op Digital Blog. Previous newsletters.

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