At first, Sylvain Burquier thought it was a joke. 

It was August 2019, and Burquier and his two children were at their home in Paris’s Ninth Arrondissement, off the right bank of the River Seine, when his phone rang. It was a representative of the French government calling to ask if the then- 45-year-old marketing manager would participate in a political experiment. President Emmanuel Macron wanted to slash the country’s carbon emissions over the next decade, and he was enlisting a group of randomly selected citizens to help him. 

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