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"Sharing" for lower carbon emissions

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The State Government’s Share Challenge has seen interest from a number of startups but there’s more potential for good in the share economy than extra pocket money, with the environment also set to benefit.

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It was the catch-cry of the iPhone in 2009, and Apple’s promise to the world for the years to come: no matter what problem you are presented with, there will be an app for that.

Similarly, as startup culture moved from Silicon Valley into cities across the world, people with simple ideas were starting small businesses and addressing the irks of modern life through technology.

Now, if you have a spare seat in your car or a spare room in your house, there’s opportunity to make money from your idle resources.

The potential impacts of the sharing economy go beyond extra pocket money and a diversity of services, though, and can have positive social and environmental impacts.

The State Government has seen this potential and is plumbing Adelaide’s community of entrepreneurs through its Share Challenge to find and support new share economy ideas, some of which could contribute towards the government’s Carbon Neutral Action Plan.

Car Next Door, a neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing startup operating in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, was created with the express intention of reducing emissions.

“If you’re not using your car during the day, like a lot of people catch the bus to work and leave their car at home, you can rent it out by the hour or day and we provide insurance and technology and a booking and payment processing platform that makes it really easy and safe,” Kate Trumbull, Communication Manager of Car Next Door, explains.

“The rough statistic is that every one car that you turn into a share car, somewhere between nine and 20 cars don’t have to be owned privately anymore. It’s quite a wide range because there’s been a lot of studies, but each person who doesn’t own a car, even the people still driving when they’re car sharing, they tend to drive less because it’s a much more conscious use of cars – you book it and pay by the hour.

“We have this goal, basically to get 10,000 cars turned into share cars by 2020… which takes something like 90,000 cars off the road at a conservative estimate.

“It’s more about reducing cars… We know that the greenhouse emissions of producing a car, so manufacturing it and shipping it to Australia, are as high or higher than its tailpipe emissions over its whole lifetime, so for every car that doesn’t have to be manufactured because people can share a neighbour’s, that’s in itself a huge carbon saving. The reduction in driving is an added benefit above that.”

The Adelaide City Council and State Government’s Carbon Neutral Adelaide action plan outlines an aim to increase the number of registered car share service members in South Australia to more than 10,000 by 2021. One way they’re planning on reaching this target is through promoting staff use of commercial car share services.

For those behind the Share Challenge, there’s also a broader benefit. Though Car Next Door was born on the eastern seaboard, Kate Trumbull moved to Adelaide for its “real entrepreneurial spirit.” It’s this spirit that will feed the Share Challenge.

“Share will seed fund one or two sharing economy [enterprises] in South Australia,” says Todd Clappis from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

“There’s over $100,000 in prizes… co-funded by Airbnb, to seed fund projects that make better use of wasted resources to deliver new social, environmental or economic value.

“We will spark new businesses that are sustainable. Finalists will be supported to develop their ideas through mentorships, business support and an incubation program.”

The finalists will pitch at an event during Open State, South Australia’s festival of collaboration, innovation, ideas and enterprise which is happening from 28 September until 8 October this year.

It’s an initiative that Trumbull says she would have appreciated during Car Next Door’s startup process in Sydney.

“We really worked that classic startup story; we had [our] own funds, and friends and family kicking in, so having actual support, the mentorship would have been great, and also just the getting a bit of a profile,” Trumbull says.

“And of course having some cash to kick things along, would have helped enormously.

“We probably won’t be directly involved in [Share], but we’re interested to see what comes out of it. I’m really excited to see what new ideas there are, and it is a bit of an ecosystem, the sharing economy, so once people share some things in their life, they’re a bit more open to sharing [more].”

Submissions for the Share Challenge are open until 13 June. Visit www.share.yoursay.sa.gov.au for more information.

Solstice Media has partnered with the South Australian Government to provide information about the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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