This credit card won’t let you buy anything else after you’ve hit your annual carbon limit

What you purchase matters: your purchase  either is life-affirming or it helps to trash the planet. Consumer accountability is a powerful incentive for individuals to take ownership of their role in adding to the climate emergency.

The Do Black card is a radical solution to expanding carbon footprints.

When you use a new credit card, it will eventually cut you off—not because you’ve reached a financial limit but because your purchases have tipped you over your carbon limit for the year.

“We realized that putting a limit that blocks your ability to complete the transaction is radical . . . but it’s the clearest way to illustrate the severity of the situation we’re in,” says Johan Pihl, one of the founders of Doconomy, a Sweden-based think tank that is launching the new card in collaboration with the UN Climate Change Secretariat and Mastercard. “We need to address how our consumption is impacting our planet.”

Doconomy is launching two versions of the card later this year. One just tracks your carbon footprint as you spend, and the other, called Do Black, takes the additional step of setting a hard limit on your footprint for the year. Initially, the data used to calculate the impact of each purchase will be imprecise—the system pulls the category code of a merchant that classifies it as a particular kind of store, then makes a calculation based on the general carbon footprint of the industry, whether you’re buying something from a fast-food joint, a clothing store, or an airline. The limit is based on a country-specific calculation of how much carbon each citizen can emit to stay on track with the 2030 goal to cut emissions in half.

[Image: courtesy Doconomy]

In the future, the calculation of impact will be tied to specific line items on a receipt to make it more accurate. Others are working on similar solutions; a startup nonprofit called Poseidon Foundation is beginning to work with retailers to track the impact of specific purchases and let customers instantly buy a carbon offset equal to their emissions. Ben and Jerry’s tested the concept at an ice cream shop in London last year. MORE