The current explosion in technological innovations has been hailed as the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is disrupting almost every industry in every country, with the breadth and depth of these changes heralding the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.
Making the 4IR a sustainable revolution is the opportunity of this generation. It will provide some of the solutions to the challenges we face, with a further increase in the efficiencies of the value chain through data analysis, robotics, sensors and 3D printing.
One of the ‘Essential Eight’ technologies* with global, cross-industry business impact in the next 5-7 years, is called ‘Blockchain’ – “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016).
Simply put, Blockchain is a method of recording data – a digital ledger of transactions, agreements, contracts – anything that needs to be independently recorded and verified as having happened. The big difference is that this ledger isn’t stored in one place, it’s distributed across several, hundreds or even thousands of computers around the world. And everyone in the network can have access to an up-to-date version of the ledger, so it’s very transparent.
How can Blockchain help combat climate change & address sustainable development?
Blockchain technology is poised to enable individuals and government groups to fight climate change by allowing them access to better monitoring tools and models for their individual energy consumption and contributions to factors such as air pollution.
Blockchain-based systems for tracking the distribution of agricultural resources contribute to less food waste and loss. Reducing waste in food supply chains could have enormous positive consequences and allow governments, large-scale growers, and individual farmers to ensure that the resources they produce are allocated as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Case Study 1 – Carbon Emissions and Energy Trading
Currently IBM and a China-based firm are using blockchain to build a prototype marketplace for carbon assets. The company is working with Energy Blockchain Labs, a blockchain company that has tested blockchain-based solutions related to energy provision. The objective, according to IBM, is to encourage companies to take steps to reduce their emissions by making it more efficient to develop and manage carbon assets.
Case Study 2 – Affordable and Clean Energy
Co-Tricity is an example of an energy project based on the Ethereum blockchain that incentivizes communities to invest in clean energy and create value for local communities.
Case Study 3 – Smart Grids
Blockchain can help improve smart grids and the management of those smart grids and quite a few startups are working hard to develop a decentralised solution. UK startup Electron wants to use smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain to develop a smart grid that will always deliver energy. Currently, they are in the testing phase and they use 53 million metering points and data of 60 energy suppliers to run experiments.
Blockchain technology will enable us to decentralise the web and decentralise many, if not all, the services that are offered via the web. The potential for good here is truly enormous, and in order to actualize that potential, blockchain will need experts, advocates, and partners at every level to help usher in a future that is more inclusive, open, and just.
A Brief History of Blockchain, by Vinay Gupta for the Harvard Business Review
The environment needs cryptogovernance, by Guillaume Chapron for Nature