Blockchain And The Environment

Satoshi’s huge paradigm shifting innovation, the blockchain, could bring transparency to corruption ridden systems and thus make these systems more environmentally sound. We should keep an eye on the different enterprises for environmental sustainability that will use tokenization as a tool to further their goals.

Transparency and Sustainability in Blockchain-Powered Economic Systems

Blockchain technology can change the way we manage environmental initiatives drastically. Different individuals have come forward with ideas about how we can use blockchain to make different economic systems more sustainable. MIT engineer James D’Angelo has proposed Sno-Caps, an idea to give every person a carbon emission cap. We would start trading our carbon emissions on the blockchain, using the no-middlemen approach to make sure that no one goes above the cap. This adds transparency to the process and democratizes it.

Conservation biologist Guillaume Chapron has come forward with other ways in which the blockchain can help save the environment, like tracking the provenance of goods and products at the market shelf to trace their sustainability. The gist of this is that many of the environmental crises we face today are due to corruption on the part of different actors, including nation states.  These actors act without much accountability. When you go and buy a product you have no idea how it was produced. But if we start putting our supply chains and certificates for the ownership of land on blockchains we could bring transparency to different systems and make them more sustainable by popular demand.

Projects Deploying Blockchain Solutions to Achieve these Goals

UK-based firm Provenance already started tracking the provenance of goods and products with blockchain. Walmart devised a plan to track pork and mangoes back to their source and to blockchainize entire food supply chain. This could incidentally also save us from food-based epidemics.

Sustainability Projects Looking to Tokenize

Apart from supply chain management and carbon credit swaps, blockchain technology itself has been wrongly criticized for being inefficient and contributing to emissions. Despite the misconceptions about Bitcoin’s carbon efficiency, there are projects that seek to create more energy efficient blockchains. GEAR for instance, is a company working to make mining systems more sustainable. If successful it can make mining more profitable and less prone to criticism from environmentalists.

SolarCoins is taking this idea a step further by implementing a system in which users can get SolarCoin Certificates for putting solar power into the grid. These are exchanged for money in the form of SolarCoins. One SolarCoin is expected to eventually be worth $20 – $30. The inventors behind SolarCoin started playing with the idea to pay people for harvesting solar energy back in 2011, but they needed to go through the banking system, which lacks transparency and is expensive to use. Now that cryptocurrencies are on the rise, they can launch their project using cryptocurrency tokens.

Successful Deployment of Blockchain Technology is a Win for Environmental Conservation Efforts

If SolarCoin succeeds, their model could be used to tokenize other environmental projects such as trading certificates for rainforest conservation for cryptocurrency. These environmental initiatives that are looking for ways to tokenize their models, can be a catalyst towards a more sustainable economy. It turns out that the innovation behind bitcoin – blockchain technology – which has been unfairly criticized as a polluter, may start being used in different ways to protect the environment.

Ilona Silberman

Computer science student and cryptocurrency enthusiast. I have been following the Bitcoin revolution from 2015.

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