Blockchain: The environment's unlikely hero
From banks to governments and climate change advocates, more and more industries and individuals around Australia are starting to dabble in blockchain technology. Australia’s blockchain ecosystem is now coming out of its infancy stage with record-breaking investments and high profile interests into the technology.
Another achievement for the development of blockchain technology comes from looking at who is investing in these ideas. Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore is eager to understand how blockchain may impact the environment through his initiative: Climate Change Reality Project. The Project connects cultural leaders, scientists, and engineers from around the world to find solutions to climate change. Blockchain technology is just one of the solutions being investigated, and it might just be the environment’s unlikely hero.
Social change advocate, Linh Do, is the Australian and Pacific lead for the Climate Change Reality Project and has over 10 years of experience working on climate change issues. Linh explains the different and unique ways blockchain is saving the environment.
1. Product Identification and Tracking
Consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of where their products come from. Consumers want to know if the eggs they bought from the supermarket are really free-range and whether the t-shirt they bought online was really made with organic cotton. We rely on consumer watchdogs, investigative journalists, and activists to tell us about the origin of products.
Recently, an anti-palm oil ad helped to educate consumers about the unsustainable production of palm oil. The Say No to Palm Oil campaign highlighted the industries link to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, animal cruelty, indigenous rights abuses, and climate change.
Linh explains that with blockchain technology, consumers will no longer need to just rely on activists and watchdogs to inform them of product origins.
“I can definitely see how blockchain could be utilised to identify and track the lifecycle of products,” says Linh. “Blockchain technology will be able to tell people exactly where their products have come from.”
The blockchain database can be used to store digital records of a product’s lifecycle. For example, consumers may one day be able to understand where all the components of their iPhone came from, which in turn will force companies like Apple to hopefully become more accountable and sustainable.
2. Distributed Energy
Linh believes that one of the limiting factors of renewable energy is the question of what to do with excess energy. Say, for instance, a family with solar roof panels goes away for the summer. How can their unused solar energy be transferred or shared?
Blockchain technology has the ability to create micro-grids that allow communities to share excess solar energy. A company called L03 Energy has already created a peer-to-peer network for the buying and selling of locally generated renewable energy. Using the same technology as Bitcoin, LO3 Energy are reimagining how energy can be generated, shared, conserved, and traded.
3. Monitoring and Surveillance of Illegal Industries
Another example of how blockchain is saving the environment is already being implemented in parts of Brazil. The Brazilian lumber exchange company, BVRio has recently adopted blockchain timber registries to provide an untampered resource for due diligence. This registry aims to discourage illegal logging operations.
“You could apply blockchain either through the tracking of trees to different surveillance and monitoring applications,” says Linh. “This is how blockchain could be used to monitor illegal forestry and land clearing to ultimately weed out corruption.”
If like Linh, you can learn how to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using the Blockchain, with our Blockchain Product Design course.