Non-Financial Blockchain Enabled Climate Tech

Originally published Jun 7, 2023 in Refi-Roundup with co-author Tarah Stafford and edited by Nura LinggihAnna Kaic from the Refi DAO team. 


Unlocking the Power of Non-Financial Blockchain Tech as Climate Solutions 🌏

Much of the discussion around blockchain technology is often focused on cryptocurrencies or the plethora of meme coins and scams that are often built on top. Yet as the world struggles to address the urgency of the climate crisis, blockchain has the potential to be a game-changer in the murky waters of international coordination, resource allocation, and international accountability. Innovative crypto financial instruments and ‘tokenomics’ may play an important role as climate solutions, but let’s a step back to examine some of the core applications of the evolving foundational technology itself…

Carbon Accounting 🧮
It’s been said that what gets measured gets done. Accurate carbon accounting is critical if we are going to get serious about climate action. Yet currently, carbon accounting is done using a hodgepodge of non-standardized, jurisdictional, and proprietary carbon accounting tools and methodologies. These systems lack interoperability, are not easily monitored or verified, and are prone to centralized server operational security (opSec) vulnerabilities.

Using standardized, decentralized, free open source protocols could create a foundation for widely used and more useful carbon accounting at all levels of government. Organizations such as Blockchain for Climate and the Open Earth Foundation are leading this charge with government pilot projects around the world to implement robust and verifiable systems for monitoring and managing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). 🙌

Why use blockchain for carbon accounting? | IntellectEU
Supply Chain Management 🏭
Global supply chains suffer from many of the same challenges as carbon accounting: expensive vendor lock-in, data fragmentation and inaccessibility. This makes it challenging to create critical efficiencies or to have international accountability.

Blockchain can be a neutral, transparent and universal foundation for applications that ensure traceability, allowing every transaction and movement of goods to be recorded on an immutable ledger and verified in real-time. Zero-knowledge proofs also provide new opportunities to protect trade secrets while retaining reliable verification of data.

Organizations like Permet Systems and The New Fork (Open Food Chain) are two leading examples building real-world templates for scaling this kind of infrastructure in their industries (fashion and food). 🙌


Source: @permetsystems

Impact Certificates, Decentralized Identity, and Oracles 🪩
Individual actions play an important role in creating positive impact from the bottom up. By bringing this valuable data on-chain, we may be able to unleash scalable databases of impact certificates with trust and accountability. This approach would create a true “resume of good work” for participants. Consider the Hypercerts primitive, which can be built to acknowledge and reward individuals who support renewable energy projects, reduce carbon emissions, adopt regenerative agriculture methods, or create any other form of positive impact.

Source: @hypercerts

A key building block for this kind of infrastructure is decentralized identity – the idea that individuals should be able to have control over their digital identities without relying on centralized authorities or intermediaries. For example, protocols like Gitcoin Passport enable individuals to verify their personhood and then connect this to the impact work attributable to them.


On the other side, once a person (or their handle) is identified, how is the impact they create verified? In the case of carbon mitigation projects, MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification) depends on data collected from sources such as satellites, drones and on-the-ground sensors. Oracles are the software that brings this valuable data on-chain and they play a key role in carbon accounting and crediting, as well as in creative strategies around crop insurance and the incentivization of GHG reduction strategies in agriculture, oceans, and forestry. Shamba Network and Astral Protocol have both been pioneers in this work. 🙌

Astral Protocol Tech Stack (Source: Astral)

Let’s build together 🫡
In conclusion, while international coordination remains a significant obstacle to climate action, non-financial blockchain technology offers promising solutions. Yet it is important to note that while this technology holds great potential, it is not a panacea to fix all of humanity’s woes. Furthermore, to truly harness its potential, we must shift gears from talking and speculating to building, doing, and demonstrating. We must embrace a collaborative mindset, recognizing that blockchain technology is a catalyst that requires collective efforts to unleash its full potential. By combining our expertise, resources, and ambitions, we can harness the power of blockchain to drive meaningful change and accelerate progress towards a more sustainable, resilient, and regenerative future. Let’s grow 🌱

If you want to dive deeper into these ideas keep an eye out for interesting events and activities on Gitcoin’s community hub pages. We will be sharing talks and hackathons as well as opportunities to get involved in exciting projects and even earn impact certificates.

Visit Gitcoin Community Hub! 👀