From global warming to climate change, from Al Gore to the Paris Accord—climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions is on nearly everyone’s mind. Nearly everyone agrees that we need to reduce the carbon footprint on this planet. However, there are disparities on how to approach climate change—a problem, which if not addressed, could result in severe consequences.
With blockchain being touted as a fix for nearly anything that can be programmed, blockchain is being applied to long term solutions in reducing carbon emissions on this rock we call Earth.
Net Zero Emissions
The goal of addressing climate change is to reach zero carbon emissions by the middle of the 21st Century. According to the authors of Sustainable Brands it “will require collaboration on an unprecedented scale.”
Our world is presented with this global challenge at the same time as blockchain technology and distributed ledge technology is emerging beyond cryptocurrency with its inherent nature to be trustworthy, transparent, and immutable.
Blockchain will be able to “bring transparency where it’s most needed, providing a strong scaffolding for climate solutions—from where action happens to how outcomes are tracked, reported and rewarded,” says Sustainable Brands. One area of reaching the goal of zero emissions is the annual corporate reporting of their carbon footprint (CF).
This article focuses on the ability of blockchain to make it easier for corporations to comply.
Current State of CF Reporting
Akash Takyar writes that non-profit organizations such as “CDP, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, and Nature Conservancy” encourage and pressure companies to “submit their carbon emission report.”
Noting that there is no improvement in global warming—these organizations have established a “goal to achieve a thriving economy” suitable for “people as well taking care of the planet”. To reach zero emissions, a structure for calculating the CFs needs to be developed and adopted.
According to Takyar, the current system relies on self-reporting and manual calculations which takes time, data can be altered, and it is a costly process. “They adopt random manual methods to evaluate the carbon emission and deliver it to the NGOs and NPOs.”
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— Better By Bus 🚌 (@Better_By_Bus) November 12, 2019
Manual CF Reporting: Current Issues
The following is an excerpt of Takyar’s article on the current problems faced by a manual and non-standard CF reporting process.
- Manual inputs. Current methods for measuring CF is manual. This includes recording the meter’s value, finding the total carbon emission, documenting the results, and then preparing the annual report. Because of the human intervention at each step—chances of errors are increased.
- Time-consuming. Manual tasks require time and resource allocation.
- Unreliable. Because the data is stored on centralized servers, there is an increased chance of data manipulation or loss.
- Security. Tampering of data can result in a substantial financial loss.
- Expensive. Manual calculation of carbon emissions involves many intermediaries. This adds to the cost to the system.
Blockchain Properties Suitable to CF Reporting
Blockchain has the potential to address the issues in calculating the CF in a company, and to create an annual report. Most, of which, can be done automatically. Because blockchain is immutable and traceable—we can expect a trusted and accurate report. Here are some of the benefits of blockchain based CF reporting according to Takyar.
- Immutability and trust. Once the data is recorded on the blockchain, it cannot be tampered or deleted by anyone in the network. Organizations can trust the exchange of CF reports with the entities they want.
- Transparency. Every member in the ecosystem will be able to access CF reports. The transparency inherent in blockchain helps investors make informed decisions.
- Lower cost. Much of the human intervention of the CF reporting process is reduced, increased accuracy reduces the need for rework and the speed of getting data frees resources.
- Traceability. Blockchain is inherently traceable with distributed ledger technology. While manual records can be hard to trace, blockchain technology makes it easy.
Blockchain Use Case Examples
Takyar reviewed two blockchain use case examples that can help companies comply with accurate and timely reports.
- Smart IoT enabled meters. Smart meters can be installed to automatically calculate carbon emissions—thereby eliminating the need for manual processing. The results of the meter reading can be directly added to the blockchain and be visible to everyone within the ecosystem. Readings are recorded in real-time and labor costs reduced.
- Smart Contracts. Smart contracts can be used to enable controlled data disclosures, and to trigger actions based on meeting target goals and objectives of the contract. Business parameters defined in the contract can generate automatic and accurate CF reports.
Source: Leeway Hertz
Meeting the global challenges of caring for our planet is something with which everyone should be in agreement. While there are those who question the cost-benefit analysis for remedies proposed by the Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Agreement—it is clear that we can all agree there is a global challenge and urgency to do a better job in caring for our planet.
One way to move toward the goal of zero carbon emissions is to gain agreement on methodologies, reasonable costs, and accuracy in reporting on a global scale. With blockchain’s IoT and Smart Contracts—it is sure to make a difference on which everyone can agree.