Blockchain and its use for the environment
Blockchain consists in a set of technologies that allow the recording of digital transactions in a secure, decentralized, synchronous and distributed manner without the need for third-party intermediaries; what characterizes it is the basis of digital currency or cryptocurrency, however, it has recently become known that its utility can go much further.
The technology applied in cryptography is beginning to be seen as part of the solution to environmental and climate problems thanks to its ability to transmit information in a distributed and secure way.
Sergi Cuadrat from the Allcot company, said during an environmental conference organized by the University of Barcelona that, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure and you cannot fear what you do not understand”. In that sense, Cuadrat believes that blockchain can be very useful for having honest information to act on, such as decarbonizing the economy.
Blockchain technology allows decentralized and immutable registration of all activities, including the environmental ones.
As an example, one of the utilities of the blockchain would be saving information about the different phases of a product`s fabrication for calculating the gas emissions or control the origin and management of materials and processes.
It wouldn’t be a crazy idea at all because, thanks to the blockchain, the final information cannot be manipulated and at the same time, it is totally transparent and accessible. As Ignasi Oliva of the i2CAT Foundation explains, “This gives us the assurance that companies that claim to be committed to the environment and to combat the climate crisis are actually committed.”
Blockchain as a complement to environmental initiatives
Another possible use related to climate change mitigation is suggested by Catalan start-up of Blockchain Digital Energy, which digitizes the sale of surplus electricity in self-consumption solar installations.
“Technology already exists and has arrived to stay, but we must see in which applications it makes more sense and how it should be applied”, says Joan Ramon Barrera, president of the Cercle Tecnològic. On the other hand, Oliva warns that “it won’t solve anything by itself, but it is a tool to strengthen or complement processes and/or initiatives”.
However, one of the major evils attributed to the blockchain is its energy consumption, because this new technology has a reputation for having a high carbon footprint, which Cuadrat considers higher than in the Netherlands.
Oliva claims that “energy costs are not an issue” and that “they are falling”. For his part, Barrera agrees with this theory, explaining that “energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the blockchain are infinitely lower than the energy that allows saving and the emissions that allows cutting”.
It might be considered wise to give a vote of confidence to this new technology, this considering the benefits offered by it, in addition it is necessary to give way to the use of new technologies and innovations, that collaborate with the care of the environment, through IT solutions based on safe and quality technologies enabling the efficient use of financial, space and energy resources, ensuring sustainable and sustained growth of operations while minimizing their impact on the ecosystem.
“Technology has not always been nature’s best friend, but now this could change with blockchain,” Cuadrat adds.