If the entire world does not successfully roll back its carbon emission in the next 12 years, experts predict the worst could happen.
Already, scientists have identified recent activities such as the devastating fires in California and Australia, heatwaves in Greenland, and record floods in Africa and Europe as some of the signs of accelerating and irreversible climate disasters.
Could blockchain be the technological magic bullet to save the entire world?
Despite initiatives set up to combat climate change and accelerate investments into a low carbon future (as seen with the Paris Agreement), experts still foresee disastrous consequences. With the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, one of the main challenges that arose as countries debated over the fine print of the agreement is how to prevent double-counting of emissions.
By design, a Blockchain is a tool that prevents double-spending of cryptocurrencies and therefore can be used here to provide a solution to fraud in this sector.
Blockchain can also be used to manage supply chains and make sure that only environmentally friendly products are sold in the market.
Furthermore, a token economy on the blockchain can be used as an incentive to encourage more people to recycle. In this article, we are going to take a quick look at three solutions blockchain is bringing to the climate change conversation.
The objective of Carbon Markets is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the trade of emission units. These emission units represent the credits for emission reduction and therefore entities capable of reducing emissions to the lowest cost get financial incentive to do so as they are paid by entities with higher-cost emissions.
Although the overall idea of carbon markets is ideal for tackling climate change, it has become rife with corruption and fraud. Most of the CO2 certificates are traded through many intermediaries and off the books. Therefore, this makes it impossible to effectively coordinate actions against climate change as double counting of carbon credits is the order of the day.
A digital token economy on the blockchain can better represent carbon credits while allowing for sufficient gathering of information across the board. Since blockchain is an immutable ledger of transactions, each claim to carbon credits will be easily verifiable and the entire process will be more cost-effective. But cutting out the intermediaries, the inefficiencies that come with central governing agencies is also eliminated.
The blockchain can also be used to verify carbon offsetting activities.
For instance, a combination of blockchain technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to tap into new sets of data that allow stakeholders to take full advantage of the tools and determine the validity of an entity’s claim to carbon credits.
Furthermore, blockchain can easily enable transparency in donations made to environmental charities. While corruption, inefficiency, and bureaucracy remain common challenges in the charity sector, Blockchain can provide real-time accountability of every coin spent on climate change projects. Also, blockchain’s capacity to transfer fun to charity projects directly from the donor to the recipient and at cheaper costs can transform how the world tackles climate change.
As much as there have been initiatives to create consensus among jurisdictions and create laws that impose a carbon tax on company products, the fact is that the climate change sector is an area with many broken promises.
Current systems not only make it difficult to determine the impact of each product on the environment but also makes it difficult to enforce any rules and regulation on the sector.
Blockchain, however, makes this quite possible as it is built to keep track of all records of transactions making it easy to track down a specified transaction and its attributes.
Through smart contracts, entities could also be held accountable for their carbon footprint. Smart contracts could solve the issue of entities backsliding from their pledges and promises to the climate change agenda. Through a blockchain-based reputation system, different entities could receive scores and ratings based on their carbon footprint thus further enforcing environmentally friendly policies in the long run.
Incentivize people to protect the environment
As much as there is a lot of hype on the media about climate change, so far there has been little action taken by governments and companies to contribute to a carbon-free future.
Besides, a lack of incentive for governments and corporations to fulfill their pledges and commitments to the agenda has stifled efforts to combat climate change. Microsoft, for instance, pledged to invest $1 billion towards transforming its enterprise to a carbon-negative outfit by 2030. With blockchain-based incentives, such a company can be held to account with a smart contract holding an appropriate amount of value.
Also, such an incentive built into a blockchain network can discourage backpedalling while encouraging environmentally friendly practices that are backed by rewards.
Furthermore, in cases where workers in carbon-intensive industries lose their jobs (as was the reason why the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement), Blockchain can be used as a reliable and transparent tool for distributing compensation to affected individuals.
With a decentralized organization, governments, corporations, and individuals working in carbon-intense industries will be encouraged and rewarded to fight climate change.
Blockchain helping the environment
In a world where data is increasingly becoming valuable, stakeholders in the climate change sector need to take up a new approach of solving the climate change issue by using tools that enable them to collect as much data as they need.
Blockchain offers such a solution as it can be instrumental in gathering all the data points needed to combat climate change in all industries across the globe.
Apart from the three solutions highlighted in this article, Blockchain is capable of offering even more benefits, especially when developed with bespoke features that are relevant to the climate change sector.
For instance, one of the direct solutions blockchains can contribute is in the form of a peer to peer blockchain-based energy system. Such a system would eliminate the high costs and inefficiencies that come with transmitting electricity over long distances and incentivize entities to invest and trade renewable energies.
In the long run, Blockchain-based incentives not only enable better regulation and enforcement of climate change policies but also enable a sustainable future for the planet.