Businesses are increasingly investigating ways to make their business models more sustainable. Society today is beginning to expect them to mitigate or reduce their negative environmental impacts, while continuing to contribute to the development of society. The blockchain, proponents say, could make this a reality.
Experts contend industries such as forestry, energy, fisheries, organic food and mining could be changed by blockchain technology. Many even suggest carbon accounting, air pollution, monitoring, material recycling, and more stands to be transformed thanks to blockchain technology, which provides trust where prior there was none.
Big players in the environmental industry are investigating blockchain technology, such as the Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC). The PEFC is responsible for more than 300 million hectares (700 million acres) of certified forests, and has investigated the platform as a means for tracing provenance.
Other companies investigating the sustainability implications of blockchain technology include impactChoice, Electron, Nasdaq (Linq), L03, IBM and more. Even popular music artist, Sting, has entered the space where blockchain and environmentalism meet. Moreover, the Australian company Power Ledger enables people to buy, sell, and exchange surplus renewable energy without middlemen.
The Hack4Climate workshop holds events worldwide to promote the use of blockchain for sustainability measures. The MIT Media Lab promoted “climate change and blockchain” worldwide at the United Nation’s COP 23 climate conference held in Bonn, Germany. The May 2017 Conference posited blockchain as a way of fighting climate change.
World leaders discussed how blockchains could improve the trading of carbon emissions, facilitate clean energy trading between consumers and finance climate change research, while also tracking and reporting emissions reduction. IBM and the China-based Energy Blockchain Labs have investigated themselves how blockchain could help combat climate change.
“Environmental problems emerge because we lack trust,” writes Conservation International President Jennifer Morris. “The environmental crisis grows in a fertile ground, which is the multiplication of intermediaries. To take an example, if you buy a fish at the supermarket, the supply chain is very long. The supermarket might not even know where it came from. And so there are multiple opportunities for environmentally unsustainable goods to enter the supply chain. A blockchain-based supply chain would mean that when you buy a fish, you scan a QR code [like a bar code] with your smartphone, and you see every step. And you know that it cannot be falsified.”
Sting’s Rainforest Foundation announced it would use its new digital currency, called BitSeeds, to help fund the organization’s global forest protection efforts. The Organization, which was founded in 1989 by the former The Police frontman, is preserving the natural habits in the Amazon River region.
impactChoice, which has provided sustainability software to businesses for nearly a decade, recently developed a permissioned ledger based on blockchain technology to help businesses keep tabs on their environmental mitigation efforts. The new blockchain-based platform is called the Natural Asset Exchange and is driven by ‘Earth Token‘. Since 2009, the Mauritius-based company has enabled institutions and individuals alike to decrease their impact on the environment.
“Harnessing the collective power of the broader community has been extremely challenging,” said impactChoice Co-Founder and Managing Director Leonard Harley. “You first have to provide a platform that enables folks to easily participate, and then you need to create a trusted environment that instills confidence amongst the community that their participation actually makes a difference, and their contributions reach the initiatives for which they are intended.”
impactChoice claims to have pioneered the use of digital representations of natural assets with the world’s first Carbon Asset Management platform, and their technology is currently in use at Africa’s Greenest Hotel, Hotel Verde. The software allows businesses to involve their customer in mitigation efforts by linking environmental impact mitigation at the transactional level.
“The challenges were enormous in a market hampered by red tape, bureaucracy, lack of transparency, trust, as well as extreme complexity,” says Mr. Harley. “This changes thanks to blockchain technology.”
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