Climate Crisis: Blockchain to the Rescue

Climate chaos is happening now. It’s not happening in the future or the past but it’s already going on. Climate change is one of the major threats to the survival and well-being of humanity. States must take urgent action to address this problem.

The most frightening consequence of climate change is sea-level rise. An increase in the level of the world’s oceans paired with extreme weather events would open the door to a grim picture. The hundreds of millions of coastal peoples will be forced to flee their homes.

Social inequalities will be sharply increased. More than 100 million citizens of developing countries will fall below the poverty line by 2030. The climate crisis will progressively get worse if no action is taken.

But there’s a solution: blockchain. While it is most commonly associated with bitcoin and other cryptocurrency applications, groundbreaking technology is capable of so much more. For example, a decentralized autonomous organization based on revolutionary technology can address several challenges in the area of climate change at once.

it aims to bring together all stakeholders: representatives of authorities, business communities, and society. The participants of the organization can interact with each other through smart contracts. These are algorithms that ensure compliance with the predefined conditions of the contract by all the signatories. The organization should also have its own alternative cryptocurrency.

Access to new sources of information

The primary mission of the signatories to the Paris Agreement will always be to limit the rise of global average temperature to less than 2С ° compared with pre-industrial levels. They intend to limit temperature rise to less than 1.5С °. To make it happen, the countries have undertaken to develop internal strategies for adaptation to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If one country exceeds the plan to limit carbon emissions (for example, by abandoning fossil fuels, improving energy effectiveness of objects, or introducing new technologies to industry) it can sell carbon credits, or emission quotas, to interested parties. The selling party must correct emission data. But just in case it doesn’t, then there is going to be a problem over “double counting”: Cuts are included in the calculations twice, but in fact, emissions are growing.

Another problem is that it is not always possible to gauge the actual effectiveness of the measures that have been taken. Blockchain technology will ensure data transfer security, help prevent possible manipulations, and also open access to new sources of information.

Of course, digital contracts can’t deal with data stored outside the network. But now there are third-party services — blockchain oracles. With their help, smart contracts interact with external data sources. There are oracle’s software and hardware products. The first ones process web-based data: air temperature, transport schedules, prices for goods, and others. The second serve as a link between self-executing contracts and the outside world, including through IoT sensors. IoT devices can be equipped with, for example, a vehicle to track movement around the city. The source of data for the oracles can also be satellite images showing territory that is preserved as the rainforest, a major net contributor of oxygen. You can check whether the organization which had accepted obligations to preserve forests is actually fulfilling them. There are also consensus oracles that collect data from a large number of sources and can be used to predict events.

Control over compliance with obligations

Some experts fear the possible impact of the pandemic on countries’ climate commitments. The authorities will begin to actively revitalize the economy, including at the expense of the fuel industry, and will stop investing in sustainable development projects. Smart contracts will reduce the risk of reneging on obligations if states back them up with a cash deposit. If they do not meet the targets, the deposits will be redistributed in the form of virtual coins among the DAO participants who have reduced emissions — for example, by planting trees.

Increasing confidence in climate commitments

Smart contracts guarantee that all participants will fulfill the conditions specified in them. For example, major corporations such as Apple, Google, Morgan Stanley, PepsiCo, and Walmart criticized the US for walking away from the Paris treaty too vigorously. They promised to adopt measures to protect the environment on their own. Not so long ago Microsoft announced its intention to reduce its carbon footprint, as well as invest $1 billion in the development of technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. As participants in a decentralized climate organization, all of these companies could enshrine their commitments in smart contracts and thus ensure their fulfillment.

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