It's the season for resolutions. Whether it's doing veganuary, embarking on a 'no-buy' challenge or just generally aiming to reduce plastic waste, green resolutions appear to be on many people's lists. And with good reason – global temperatures are still rising and with the world population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, the problem will only get worse.
Blockchain technology has been made famous by the rise (and dramatic falls) of cryptocurrency. However, its uses are by no means limited to that. The key features of blockchain are that it records any transaction of value, utilises a distributed peer-to-peer system to verify that transaction and once verified, creates an immutable record. These features make the technology useful in many areas, including in tackling environmental issues.
Towards the end of last year, the World Economic Forum published a study on how blockchain technology can and is being used to address our most pressing environmental challenges. It identified the most relevant areas in which blockchain can provide environmental solutions. For example, 'see-through' supply chains, decentralised and sustainable resource management, new sources of finance for sustainable projects, incentivising circular economies and transforming carbon markets.
The following are just a few of the exciting innovations in the environmental sphere driven by blockchain technology:
Fishcoin are developing a utility token to address the issues in supply chain transparency in the fishing industry. The tokens reward seafood producers who capture the data needed to trace seafood. This data will be used to sustainably manage fish stocks and improve supply chain inefficiencies.
Since there are a vast array of fishers, fish farmers, processors and retailers worldwide, there is no one central entity that can be the collector of this data. Blockchain technology is useful here because it is decentralised so no one person will control the flow of data.
Described as the 'Airbnb for electric vehicles', Share&Charge seeks to address the limitations of public charging infrastructure by developing a decentralised charging ecosystem. The platform will allow charging station owners to rent out charging time to electric car owners participating in the network and to receive payment through euro-backed digital tokens. Share&Charge has been piloting this technology in the UK.
Sun Exchange is a blockchain based platform for crowdselling solar panels. The team identify empty roof spaces in optimal locations, post the project on the Sun Exchange and then invite people to buy solar panels. The panels get leased to schools and businesses in the sunniest places on Earth. Investors get paid an income stream in Bitcoin, avoiding exchange fees associated with national currencies.
Poseidon is a non-profit which uses blockchain technology to raise money through token sales to buy carbon credits which support rainforest conservation. Existing carbon credit schemes usually trade in bulk quantities of credits. Poseidon's blockchain platform allows the companies it teams up with to purchase carbon credits to offset their emissions on a micro level.
Poseidon hit headlines last year when it teamed up with Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop in London. When customers paid for an ice cream, Ben & Jerry's would pay a penny to offset the carbon in the cone and customers would have the option of paying an extra penny to make their cone carbon positive. The project has conserved an area in the Peruvian rainforest equivalent to the size of 360 tennis courts and home to over 5,300 trees!