Blockchain has been touted as a solution for problems ranging from curing cancer to legitimizing the black market in the US Prison System. While some use cases are definitely more tenuous than others, there is currently a lot of faith in blockchain climate change solutions. But is it justified?

The Climate Change Problem Is Getting Worse

In October last year, the UN issued its starkest warning on climate change yet. We have only twelve years left to restrict global warming to a maximum of 1.5 C (2.7 F) compared to pre-industrial levels. Even half a degree beyond this will bring far worse risks of extreme heat, drought, and floods. Furthermore, the damage caused by climate change is expected to displace more than 143 million people over the next three decades, who will be forced to flee their homes to escape climate-related issues.

The Paris Agreement on climate change aims to limit the increase to less than 2 C. Therefore, achieving the 1.5 C rise is at the ambitious end of the existing commitment. The Paris Agreement requires each country to define its own contributions to the efforts to restrict climate change. The contribution of each country is called a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Each nation must ensure its targets become progressively more ambitious over time.

It’s important to note that the Paris Agreement has no legal enforceability and each country participates through consensus. If countries start to leave, the agreement could fall apart and leave the world with no solution to the problem of increasing global temperatures.

Can Blockchain Help?

Measurement and tracking are the core challenges in tackling climate change. This doesn’t just apply at the macro level necessary to verifying how nations are progressing in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Business and people also have to participate. In the words of management expert Peter Drucker: “What gets measured, gets managed.”

Blockchain provides a means of establishing a single point of truth between entities through the application of consensus methods. Real-world assets can become tokenized on the blockchain, including carbon credits or green energy. These assets are tradable, creating value and incentivizing climate change efforts within nations and enterprises.

In January 2018, the United Nations announced the formation of the Climate Chain Coalition. The announcement outlined the mission of the group in “advancing collaboration among members working on issues of common interest, and to help enhance the environmental integrity and results of DLT applications for climate.” The coalition now has more than one hundred members, including NGOs, consulting firms, and various blockchain companies and associations.

Blockchain Climate Change Groups

Given the UN efforts, it seems inevitable that blockchain has a role to play in the future of managing climate change. However, the UN initiative isn’t the only one. Several other blockchain climate change groups and projects are working to further the effort. Here are just a few.

Blockchain Climate Institute

The Blockchain Climate Institute is an international, non-profit, volunteer-led entity. It acts as a think-tank as well as an advocacy group for blockchain climate change initiatives. The mission statement of the Institute is “to raise awareness among the international climate change policy community of the tremendous potential of Blockchain technology to considerably enhance climate actions.”

It aims to achieve this mission in three areas:

  • Addressing climate finance flows, namely helping to fill the funding gap between investment needed for climate change and the amount that countries have already committed to paying under the Paris agreement
  • Increasing transparency in climate funding
  • Helping developing countries access climate financing

 

Climate Change

There’s an impressive line-up of experts from the climate change and blockchain sectors sitting on the Institute’s advisory board. They include the former Director of Climate Change from the World Bank and a former MD of the Canadian Blockchain Research Institute (the professional body co-founded by Don and Alex Tapscott).

Blockchain for Climate Foundation

The Blockchain for Climate Foundation has a single, clear goal: put the Paris Agreement on the blockchain. It’s an ambitious project, involving each country joining a single blockchain ledger and transparently recording their own investments and contributions to climate change. If it’s pulled off, it will be an all-encompassing near-global blockchain climate change record.

Obviously, such a global ledger would be a powerful tool in measuring and managing the impact of climate-related initiatives. However, it would also represent an impressive demonstration of the potential for blockchain technology used internationally for good.

 

Climate Change

The Blockchain for Climate Foundation is based in Canada. As such, it’s starting with putting the Canadian National Carbon Account on the blockchain. This will work as a proof of concept, demonstrating to other countries what’s possible with blockchain climate change tools. The Foundation is also convening a working group of government representatives to help guide and develop the tool.

Climate Ledger Initiative

The Climate Ledger Initiative is another group dedicated to the research and development of blockchain climate change solutions. It’s stated mission is “to accelerate climate action in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through blockchain-based innovation applicable to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance.”

CleanTech21, a sustainable development foundation based in Zurich, is behind the Initiative. The Governments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein both provide funding to the Climate Ledger Initiative.

In December last year, the Initiative published a comprehensive paper detailing various ways in which blockchain climate change initiatives could help further the cause. These included using blockchain in carbon pricing and taxation as well as token-based crowdfunding for climate change initiatives. Another example is blockchain in renewable energy development.

Conclusion

Like the technology itself, blockchain climate change initiatives are still very much in their infancy. The fact that there is a multitude of research-based groups and think-tanks is reflective of this. At this early stage, many of them are working separately but towards the same goals.

As blockchain matures, and governments and enterprises gain trust in the new technology, it’s likely that many of these disparate groups will consolidate into broader and more powerful initiatives. When that happens, we will see the true potential of the impact of blockchain in reversing climate change.


This article by Sarah Rothrie was previously published on Coincentral.com

About the Author:

Sarah ran away from a corporate job so she could travel the world. After doing that, she found herself a much-loved new career as a freelance blockchain technology writer. She is now a full-time digital nomad, who travels the world while working on her laptop. In addition to writing and researching, she also runs her own websites – find out more at sarahrothrie.com. You can usually locate her somewhere near the food.

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Have you ever thought about how blockchain could affect the diamond industry? Probably not, right? But now blockchain technology could improve how we track diamonds, from the mine to the jewelry store.

But there’s an issue with diamonds. As with any popular industry, the diamond market isn’t exactly squeaky clean. Some diamonds, known as conflict diamonds, are illegally traded to fund wars abroad. You may not know this due to the high demand for diamonds. Almost 50 percent of the demand for diamonds come from the US — and it isn’t a surprise. After all, it is the go-to jewel of engagements and weddings. And because of its hardiness, diamond is ideal for industrial use.

That said, mining for diamonds can be a violent affair. The 2006 hit Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, introduced the travesties related to diamond mining in Africa to the world’s stage.

Regardless, stakeholders in the diamonds industry rightfully want to stop the trade of conflict diamonds, and blockchain might be the solution.

What Is a Conflict Diamond?

For those who don’t know, a conflict diamond is an uncut diamond that is mined in an armed conflict zone. The diamond is then traded, and the funds are used to finance the fighting. These blood diamonds are usually associated with conflicts in central and western Africa.

According to CNN, about 4 percent of the world’s diamond population came from Sierra Leone during its civil war (1991-2002). And that’s from just one country! In an article by CBS, experts suggested that blood diamonds could make up 15 percent of the diamond trade.

Despite these statistics, there are measures in place that attempt to smother the illegal industry. The primary actor is the Kimberley Process. This certification scheme connects local governments and international organizations to solve the problem. Their solution: Ensure every shipment of diamonds from these areas has certification.

Does It Work?

The Kimberly Process says it does and claims a 99.8 percent success rate.

But with so many intermediaries, and so many steps between mining and selling the diamonds, fraud is still highly probable. Many believe the process could be more effective, including the diamond giant De Beers.

The Diamond Blockchain

The De Beers Group, which owns over 30 percent of the diamond market, has recently announced its intent to pursue blockchain tech. That’s right. One of the industry leaders wants to utilize the blockchain to curb conflict diamonds.

From what we knew about blockchain, it should work. Cataloging diamonds on the blockchain will create transparency. Only a select few will have access to the ledger, in order to ensure that each individual in the process does their job correctly. You no longer need to trust governments, the mines, the shipment team. If the diamond is certified on the blockchain, it’s legit.

De Beers plans to track the diamonds from initial mining to final sale. That way, you can trace every move of the diamonds on the digital ledger.

Their blockchain venture, Tracr, launched in January 2018. Despite being founded by De Beers, the company stresses that it has no access to the data unless it’s shared by the data owner. Using the Kimberly Process as a guide, they’ve invested with diamond offices, producers, graders, retailers, and other stakeholders to make the project a reality.

 

But they aren’t the only ones using blockchain to kill conflict diamonds.

In 2015, Everledger was used to securely track diamonds. It came back in 2017 with a new Diamond Time-Lapse plan (DDLP). This new initiative tracks the whole process, from mining to certification, in real time.

But Everledger isn’t completely unrelated to De Beers, either. This tech was built by Dharmanandan Diamonds, a trust of the DDPL and a sight holder of De Beers. In other words, the creators of Everledger are authorized purchasers of rough diamonds by De Beers.

Is De Beers the Solution?

IBM joined the diamond-tracking trade in April of 2018, partnering with various jewelry firms, and they weren’t alone. In fact, a Canadian NGO, Impact, left the Kimberly Process altogether, citing that the De Beers solution was unsatisfactory.

If this is true, there could be more room for blockchain tech development in the diamond industry.

Summary

Saying conflict diamonds are an issue is an understatement. The funds from these illicitly traded gems are funding violence and terror. Blockchain offers a stunning solution.

So far, we’ve seen industry leaders accept the new tech with open arms, but there’s still room for the technology to grow, and the process can still evolve.

But one thing is certain: These initiatives are making us think about how we can prevent the trade of blood diamonds and pave the way to peace.


This article by Kelsey Ray was previously published on Coincentral.com

About the Author:

Kelsey Ray Banerjee is a professional content writer and digital marketer specializing in blockchain, forex trading, and sustainability. When not writing, you can find her traveling, reading, or on Twitter.

When we think about industries set for disruption by blockchain, construction probably isn’t top of the list. After all, the traditional image of a building site seems far removed from crypto, coding, and hackathons. But there are potentially enormous benefits for putting blockchain and construction together.

This article will round up some of the possible use cases for blockchain in the construction industry.

Blockchain and Construction Supply Chains

A bad workman blames his tools, right? Maybe that’s a bit harsh, though. After all, the construction industry is dependent on the availability of quality supplies and tools, at the right time and in the right place. Given that the sector is highly fragmented with many different players, big and small, supply chains are a big deal.

Tools for Building

Purchase orders, delivery notes, and invoices are often still paper-based. Firms frequently don’t know if the supplies they need are in stock when they start a project, which leads to delays and incurs costs.

These aren’t even the worst consequences. UK government contract Carillion collapsed at the start of 2018, affecting the jobs of around 43,000 people as a result. Sources pointed to its poor supply chain management as being a critical factor in the collapse, through lousy credit management and a lack of visibility over projects and required supplies.

The blockchain is already proving its ability to transform supply chains, in one instance through the partnership between Walmart and IBM. Using blockchain to manage construction supply chains could create a single source of truth regarding the availability and provenance of construction supplies, as well as tracking payments.

The industry is taking notice of this use case for blockchain and construction. Recent announcements have now confirmed that Probuild, one of Australia’s largest building firms, has partnered with US blockchain construction innovator Brickschain for managing its global supply chain. The announcement confirms that “Probuild has the vision that Blockchain, IoT and Big Data can revolutionize the construction supply chain.”

The Brickchain Homepage

Blockchain and Construction Project Management

Construction projects rely on various parties to work together to complete a building based on pre-defined specifications. Each party expects payment based on work done. Therefore, the peer-to-peer connectivity of blockchain, combined with smart contract functionality, brings excellent opportunities to streamline construction project management.

One study into the potential of blockchain in construction project management found that “[o]n the construction site blockchain can improve the reliability and trustworthiness of construction logbooks, works performed and material quantities recorded.”

Industry publication Construction Manager (they don’t mess around with fluffy, ambiguous names in this business) also reported on the development of two prototype applications combining blockchain and construction.

TraderTransferTrust is a payment system built on blockchain that triggers payment only on the completion of work done. Physical proof of work, if you will. ConstructCoin is another project from the same development team. It aims to create a marketplace of information about the construction industry.

Reduce Litigation

The Construction Blockchain Consortium (CBC) is an industry group set up by its members to investigate the potential for how blockchain and construction could play together. While the above use cases are transformational, the CBC outlines some cultural shifts that may occur in the industry as a result of using blockchain.

The building industry has become highly litigious. The CBC highlights how using blockchain to foster a culture of collaboration and ownership could help to reduce incidences of parties suing one another for shoddy work or delays in project completion. Further, the consortium believes that a less litigious environment “should encourage a less ‘defensive’ approach to decision making and thereby encourage innovation.”

Digitized Land Acquisition and Building Rights

In their paper about the future of smart cities, McKinsey points to the current bureaucracy involved in land acquisition and building rights as a barrier to agile construction. The paper goes on to explain how digitized solutions will speed up the process of obtaining land and building approvals.

Blockchain-based land registries provide a vast improvement over today’s paper-laden processes. Blockchain allows for speedier approvals with no loss of paperwork or waiting for multi-party signatures on physical documents.

Additionally, in countries, land disputes are all too common. A permanent, unalterable record of ownership has distinct advantages in proving ownership. India is among the countries that have been trialing the use of blockchain in land registrations.

Building Inspections

Most buildings are subject to inspections at some point or another. Structures used by the public need checks to ensure adherence to safety standards. Building surveys often feature in sales of real estate, as they reveal any structural faults that may impact the valuation.

These inspections are often conducted in a fragmented way. An inspector or surveyor may have limited or no visibility of records from previous checks. This makes the process heavily dependent on the specific inspector, and errors or oversights may happen.

Building Inspection

Blockchain offers the opportunity for a piece of real estate to come with its own permanent record of past inspections. Blockchain data is immune to tampering by any party who may have an interest in ensuring structure passes muster. Similarly, blockchain could also record any structural or maintenance work undertaken on the property over its life cycle.

More Agile Planning

Currently, there is a lengthy process to procure public funds for investment in infrastructure. Governments must justify the need to spend taxpayer funds on a particular initiative. This means that new infrastructure investment can take months or even years to come to fruition.

As we move towards the smart cities of the future, increased connectivity and availability of information could significantly speed approvals for new infrastructure investment. For example, a government body may quickly build a case showing increased traffic flows in a particular area, using sensor data from a blockchain. This enables faster construction investment in road improvements, traffic calming measures or other means.

Hong Kong

Final Word

Blockchain and construction may seem unlikely partners at first. However, like so many other sectors, construction depends on trust-based interactions with other parties along with solid record keeping. Therefore, assuming the industry can adapt, blockchain could provide significant value to the builders of the future.


This article by Sarah Rothrie was previously published on Coincentral.com

About the Author:

Sarah ran away from a corporate job so she could travel the world. After doing that, she found herself a much-loved new career as a freelance blockchain technology writer. She is now a full-time digital nomad, who travels the world while working on her laptop. In addition to writing and researching, she also runs her own websites – find out more at sarahrothrie.com. You can usually locate her somewhere near the food.

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