Tackling Climate Change with Blockchain: An Urgent Need, Ready Opportunity and Call to Action

If blockchain is really going to change the world, then why are so many of us stuck in pilot purgatory? Is it because our distributed ledgers are too disruptive to the existing incumbents? Or that they already have solutions that are good enough, at least for now, so breakthrough ideas like blockchain could wait on the back burner?  

Is there a large scale, urgent business problem out there that requires massive collaboration and does not have existing incumbents?

We believe there is one: Climate change.  

While we as a society recognize that climate change is real and have the technologies to fix it, we lack a way to get all the parts of our economy — businesses, investors and banks, consumers, and regulators — to work together on it.  Part of the problem is we have to work across traditional boundaries of industries and countries and integrate vast supply chains around the world. And we have to do it without recognized central authorities because they don’t exist at this point.  

Fortunately, blockchain, or distributed ledger technologies (DLT), may be just the right tool for this challenge: It is designed for coordinating trust and collaboration across multiple parties, with greater speed and much greater scale than ever before. With blockchain, we could record trusted Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for every type of economic activity and transfer them across supply chains as products and services are transacted.

The Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group (CA2SIG) of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project is an open source effort to foster a collaborative network of climate, DLT, and other emerging technology organizations (i.e., universities, NGOs, government, startups, corporations, multilateral development banks, etc.) that can create a center of gravity around the role of DLT and open source software to address challenges in the global climate action, policy and digital accounting space.  

We hope that our work could act as a shared initiative where participants can contribute value to and share explorations in the use of DLT alongside other emerging technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data, and machine learning to address the challenge of keeping a transparent climate accounting system towards the climate targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The CA2SIG is currently comprised of the following working groups:

Carbon Accounting and Certification Working Group, which is working on automating accounting and transactions of emissions:

Consumer Disclosure Working Group, which is working on ways of making customers aware, in a meaningful, understandable way, of the impact they bring about on the environment while going about their daily life:

Climate Accounting Standards and Protocols Working Group, which is focused particularly on the protocols and standards that will enable consistent climate accounting :

Together, these working groups are building software for the following goals:

  • Implementing GHG emissions accounting using verified data and models, which could publish trusted emissions data for a wide variety of business activities.
  • Passing GHG emissions up to national and supra-national structures.
  • Making accurate GHG emissions available at the consumer level.

By making our work open source, we hope to enable more developers to build on our work and extend GHG accounting to every part of our economy around the world.  

What we’re asking is for people to help us integrate our software into more activities. Climate change is happening because every little thing that is happening is contributing to it just a tiny bit. We want to be able to get data on those activities, model their emissions, and start making people aware of their impact and work together to reduce emissions.  

Whether you’re an experienced developer, from the business side, or a private individual, we could use your help in linking real world activities to climate change and coming up with solutions together. Join us on the Hyperledger Wiki for more details and links to regular calls.