4GAMECHANGERS Studio Talk | 30.11.2022

Carrot and stick - What spurs individual willingness to protect the climate?

The facts are on the table, but decisive action too often fails to materialize: The climate crisis, it is becoming increasingly clear, is also a motivation problem.
Will humanity have a motivation problem until it gets a time problem? Or will we succeed in overcoming this socio-ecological dilemma?

It has always been known in psychology: Reward and punishment are effective methods to control individual behavior. Strategies such as nudging can steer us toward more climate-friendly behavioral options in a given decision-making situation.

Scientific findings such as these are now being used by political decision-makers to promote climate-protective action. For example, CO2 prices are intended to make environmentally harmful behavior more expensive and thus less attractive. In Bologna, Vienna and Bavaria, for example, there is also talk of bonus systems to reward citizens for environmentally friendly behavior. Anyone who separates waste correctly or travels by train or bus is credited points to their account. The points collected can be used to attend events or pay for a visit to a restaurant, among other things.

It sounds like a game, but it has real consequences. For example, the website Digitales Wien says: "Using motion tracking, the app actively measures distances traveled and automatically detects whether you're walking, biking or using public transportation." Critics see dangers in these currently popular initiatives: Privacy breaches, social manipulation, and even comparisons to the Chinese social credit system.

At Change Summit 2022, leading experts and industry insiders will discuss the benefits or risks that social reward and punishment systems can pose. Do these help save the planet? If so, how do they need to be set up? What mistakes should not be allowed to happen under any circumstances? Or should we refrain from rewarding "do-gooders" and punishing environmental sinners from the outset in order to avoid an "Orwellian future" with all our might?

Together with leading Austrian media, Change Summit explores the question of how to save Mother Earth and whether initiatives like CO2 taxes and eco-reward systems are top or flop.


  • Johannes Daniel Dahm, Aktivist, Unternehmer & Wissenschaftler
  • Gerhard Fehr, CEO und Gründungspartner FehrAdvice & Partners
  • Ambros Gasser, Geschäftsführer ASI Reisen
  • Patricio Hetfleisch, Marketing- und Kommunikationsmanager Tirol Werbung
  • Katharina Pirktl, Geschäftsleiterin für Mitarbeiterentwicklung & Qualitätsmanagement Alpenresort Schwarz
  • Host: Sabine Loho - PULS 24