Web3 Climate Solutions?

The Merge and Beyond: Gitcoin and decentralized crowdfunding for Web3 climate solutions

Originally published on My Climate Journey

The Merge

One of the biggest events in the history of cryptocurrency, and what we now call
web3, just happened. On the morning of Sept. 15, 2022, the Ethereum blockchain transitioned off “mining” on powerful, energy-intensive, single purpose computers in warehouses by switching the underlying security mechanism for the blockchain. In the process of this change of code, Ethereum energy consumption fell by 99.5%.

This is arguably the single biggest reduction in energy consumption by any industry in modern history. With “The Merge” on September 15th, Ethereum reduced its annual energy consumption and associated emissions by approximately 41 million tons, or the equivalent of Sweden.

To celebrate this historic moment, I invite you to join us in exploring the climate solutions projects currently looking for support in the 15th quarterly Gitcoin Grants Round (we call it “GR15”) which is live from Sept 7th to the 22nd and features over 150 early-stage climate projects from all over the world.

Gitcoin is a project that aims to fund public goods and open source tools for Web3. Gitcoin Grant Rounds have created a powerful crowdfunding tool that allows project developers to share their projects with the broader community for anyone to browse and fund and unlock approximately 3 million dollars in matching funds each quarter. Over the last year, the number of climate-related projects in our climate solutions side round that have been proposed and funded by the community has grown from 26 to over 200 projects. The magic of Gitcoin is the grants on the platform benefit from something called Quadratic Funding which algorithmically apportions matching funds to the projects with the greatest volume of support from community members, effectively harnessing the wisdom of the crowd.

These innovative projects are already using web3 technology to help accelerate climate solutions and unlock the world-changing transition that is necessary. Allow me to share with you how and why this technology can be useful.

“Trustless?” –  Removing middlemen 

The fundamental characteristic that makes blockchain technology and web3 valuable is that it creates what is called a “trustless” condition. In other words, something that doesn’t need to be trusted because it is verified. It is this combination of decentralisation, game- theory powered incentivization and cryptography that creates conditions that do
not require us to trust any third party to exchange things of value.

Bitcoin used these capabilities to start exchanging a form of money, and now Ethereum and other projects expanded the usefulness of “trustlessness” by facilitating applications to be able to run on a blockchain. Now the only limit to what is possible is the imagination of developers and changemakers exploring potential use cases. Some early examples include directly financing renewable energy projects and forest conservation, facilitating local microgrids, or increasing the accountability and efficiency of carbon accounting at the local and international level, as well as the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of carbon
offsets. It can also facilitate things like removing middlemen in car sharing and so much more.

Composability and Interoperability 

When you talk to developers working on Web3 technology and ask them what they are excited about, very often that conversation centres around composability and interoperability. These are key principles of Web3 which is essentially open source technology being built on public blockchains. This means that instead of reinventing the wheel, projects can learn from each other, grow together and build on top of each
other’s innovations.

Use Cases  

To illustrate the wide array of different use cases for blockchain-enabled solutions, we’ve created some collections of projects based on their use cases from the Gitcoin Grants Round:

Potential Risks to be avoided

At the end of the day cryptocurrency and Web3 are just tools. They can be used for public goods or they can be used to make things worse. Concerns about privacy in a world of open blockchains is a real issue that needs to be addressed. This is part of the reason why Web3 is perhaps better understood as not only a shift in technology, but also as an emerging
social movement focused on decentralisation and the empowerment of communities.

The importance of art, storytelling and community 

Art, storytelling and community play a fundamental role in shaping our technology and the values of our society. You will also find projects in the Gitcoin grants round to support educational arts and culture projects. At the end of the day no tool is perfect but it can help. Our hope is that Gitcoin can help put better tools in the hands of more people and together we can get to work building a better world.