There are some innovative ways out there to use blockchain in order to save the environment. For instance, ‘Nori’ is a company that aims to reverse climate change. Their goal is to remove the carbon emissions present in the environment. They achieve this by providing an incentive that is for removing carbon dioxide, it rewards its users with the token.
Some of the fields in which blockchain could impact the environment in a positive way are:
- Supply Chain Management
A number of companies have started to pursue blockchain technology for its working. This factor can be used to implement ways in which blockchain can save the environment. One of the ways is using blockchain to verify the supply chain. The two properties which can help in bringing about this change are Transparency and Immutability. Most people now want to know the source of the products they purchase. In the sense they want to know whether the product made was environment friendly or not. Generally, consumers are not aware of how the product was made or shipped. Involvement of blockchain technology in the supply chains can help reduce the inefficiency by middle men. The transactions can be recorded from the time it is being produced to when it reaches people’s shelves. This can help in preventing use of unethical means, cheating and wastage of resources. An added advantage is how smart consumers would make better environment friendly choices regarding the products they purchase if they can track everything about the product.
There are a few companies trying to incorporate blockchain technology to their system:
‘Provenance’ is a company which tries to link the supply chain of yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna (in Indonesia) to a particular blockchain right from fisherman to its export stage.
Another example is of ‘Foodtrax’ a platform which aims to cover all steps of manufacturing and supply chain with traceability at each step.
Blockchain applications are being piloted to save significant amount of energy. Energy comes from power plants that are usually located far from the source that uses it. Loss of energy while transferring from the power plant to source is natural. A peer to peer blockchain based energy system would reduce the need to transmit electricity over such long distances. A localised peer to peer energy distribution system can be created that is to trade the energy from areas with surpluses to the areas with energy deficit. This will function through many microgrids where households or buildings with renewable resources will trade their excess energy to households or buildings with deficit.
Consumers can be provided with data of energy usage, most times the data is intentionally altered or accidentally misrepresented. By uploading it on a transparent and immutable ledger the data wouldn’t change and users will have access to it.
‘Power Ledger’ is an Australian start up helps in developing the country’s renewable energy market. It aims to make the resources affordable, clean and sustainable by providing an opportunity to its consumers and producers to keep a track of their production, price and source.
‘Acciona Energica’ is a company which uses blockchain technology to trace the renewable electricity it supplies. The clients can check the origin of the energy supplied via this technology.
- Carbon Tax
At present there’s no way to track the environmental impact of any product and hence the products are not priced according to the carbon footprints associated with them. No matter how high the carbon footprint of a certain product is, consumers would buy it because there’s no tax on it. Blockchain would help in setting a standardized and sanctioned method to calculate carbon emissions.
If every product’s carbon footprint is tracked and put up on blockchain then users would be able to track the levels of carbon emissions of various products and select accordingly. When the products with high carbon footprint would cost more people would turn to other alternatives. This will ensure customers and producers to demand and supply respectively eco-friendly products. Assigning some score to the company or product on the basis of the carbon footprint would allow manufacturing more environment friendly and would encourage conservation of resources.
‘Blockchain for Climate Foundation’ is an organization that visions in ‘Putting the Paris Agreement on the Blockchain’. It aims to create a financial pathway to incentivize reduction in emissions globally.
The burden of waste management and recycling is a huge environmental problem. People generally aren’t motivated to participate given the present recycling norms. Moreover, there’s no definite way to track the influence it has. However, a recycling program on the blockchain would give users an incentive. The users who deposit waste could be given financial rewards or cryptographic token.
A company called the ‘Plastic Bank’ based in Vancouver and British Columbia uses blockchain system to trade plastics collected for basic amenities. Plastic bank has also set up places where the plastic can be exchanged for cryptocurrency.
‘Agora Tech Lab’ reward people for their contribution to the society in exchange for use of government services. They believe giving the community dwellers an incentive to manage waste will make the place better to live.
‘Recycle to Coin’ is an application on the Ethereum Network incentivizes recycling through digital currency. Users are rewarded for each can or bottle they give and earn tokens which can be cashed out as bitcoin, ether and even fiat money.
- Key to Sustainability
The sustainable management of our environment can be achieved through blockchain. It would help companies and individuals to make better and informed decisions. Since it ensures transparency all the details of where the product is made from and how resource positive it is users can choose from the sustainable products available. It can be an important tool to promote sustainability.
- Changing Incentives
Companies and individuals can be made to take decisions in an environment friendly way by providing incentives. At present there are not enough ways to see the effects of the various decisions made by people. But if blockchain technology is used people can be made aware of their actions. With the right amount of data collected, people can be made responsible for their actions. For example, data can be collected on how much carbon footprint is given to produce a commodity or the data on waste emissions by a certain factory. With the aid of blockchain technology users can be rewarded for practicing sustainable environmental applications or even punished for mismanagement.
- Non profits Organizations
Non-profit organizations are increasing in number but also are the complaints regarding corruption and exploitation of funds. The administration often fails to record all the donations received and is inefficient to manage these resources. Blockchain technology could help in transforming the current image of charities by restoring the lost credibility of them. Through automation the administrative cost is made less, and the funds are directly paid for the actual cause.
Donations across border can be made much easier. The traditional system of donating across the globe involves paying taxes. Using blockchain technology could help reduce tax payments and involvement of intermediaries as transactions on blockchain do not bind users geographically.
Blockchain also helps in preserving donor anonymity. No matter how small or big the donation is users can donate without revealing their identity.
Blockchain would be able to reward users by providing goal-driven fundraising models.
‘NGO Xchange’ is a blockchain platform that helps in preventing fraud and also paves a way for global donations.
‘Bitgive’ is an organization which helps in tracking donations on the blockchain.
In today’s globalized economy, growth in business along with environmental development is crucial and is expected to go hand in hand. There is a growing concern among certain groups that blockchain may produce amazing benefits for business but demolition to the environment. It is true to a certain extent because cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin which run on blockchain are pretty energy consuming. But the good news is how blockchain has evolved throughout the years and is not just limited to its original application of cryptocurrency. There are a wide range of applications of blockchain which makes room for improving the sustainability currently available. These applications for making the social conditions better are becoming increasingly critical and will have a striking impact on the world. Blockchain can be used to tackle the global problems like climate change and holds potential in making the environment sustainable. Although it is still growing and is yet to be accepted by more people, blockchain has the capabilities to solve the current world problems. Blockchain is definitely worth the hype if used in the right way to derive at just solutions.
Ashni Santhosh is a forward-thinking individual with refined interpersonal and multitasking skills. She is always looking for opportunities to expand her curious mind through new experiences. She is currently pursuing B.A. in economics and mathematics.