By Todd Lemons, Chairman at Veridium Labs
In the past 50 years, the world has lost more than 50 percent of its agricultural land to urban and industrial development. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s biodiverse tropical forests have been converted to industrial agriculture and up to 80 percent of the world’s fresh water is contaminated. Since the start of the industrial era, around 1750, we as humans have altered the natural greenhouse effect of planet Earth, causing dangerous climate change. It’s time to focus on turning human activities into actions that actually deal with the problem systematically.
More than 1,000 companies in the US have pledged their commitment to sustainability initiatives, including a platform where businesses set ambitious, measurable GHG emission targets: “to date, ‘We Are Still In’ is the largest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action.”
Challenges faced by companies using carbon credits
Carbon credits help the mitigation of environmental impact but the process can be long, arduous, and overcomplicated. Some of the challenges that companies and large corporations need to sort out include multiple verification standards, distinct quality ratings, voluntary and compliance markets, a broad range of expiration dates, and price opacity and irregularities. And then there’s the problem with the current global economic model, as I explained in this article: “Indonesia is on fire intentionally. Most of the fires are set to clear biodiverse, carbon rich forests for conversion to oil palm, for use in cookies, candies, cakes, crackers, ice cream, shampoo, soap, lotions and cosmetics. Palm oil companies don’t clear forests for oil palm because they’re evil. They do so because it makes perfect economic sense to do so – because these rich stores of biodiversity and carbon are more valuable as oil palm plantations than they are as natural forests. That’s a sure sign that we have a broken economic model – one that undervalues non-renewable natural resources in favor of junk food and personal care products. That is why environmentalists are never going to solve our environmental problems, because at its core, the root cause is a outdated economic model.”
The 17 sustainable development goals
According to the Environmental Defense Fund: “This year, we saw a 160 percent increase in tech and internet companies interested in partnering to advance their climate goals.”
In 2015, more than 190 world leaders committed to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, aimed at ending extreme poverty, eliminating inequalities, and fighting climate change.
The momentum behind these goals is picking up and will continue to accelerate. Many companies purchase third party carbon credits to try and mitigate their environmental impact,
 Global threats to human water security and river biodiversity: J. Vorosmarty & P. B. McIntyre, et al
but the process of measuring those emissions throughout a complex supply chain is confusing and costly. Purchasing these financial instruments is equally complex. Companies are engaging with suppliers abroad in order to manage their emissions and footprints.
Blockchain empowering environmental solutions
The blockchain is a distributed digital ledger that has the ability to store data and transaction records. The ledger eliminates the need of a central authority owning the data since a copy of it is stored on many different personal computers. Users can interact without a middlemen involved, as a result transactions are faster and more secure. Additionally, this procedure reduces costs and increases efficiency. But how does blockchain empower environmental solutions?
Carbon credits help the mitigation of environmental impact. Tech companies are now starting to measure their complete carbon footprints and draw users into their sustainability efforts, but the process is complicated and economically unattractive for companies. As explained by Future Thinkers: “In the current system, the environmental impact of each product is difficult to determine, and its carbon footprint is not factored into the price. This means that there is little incentive for consumers to buy products with a low carbon footprint, and little incentive for companies to sell such products.” The transparency and efficiency of blockchain-based carbon accounting makes this feasible. By incorporating blockchain technology, companies can integrate the entire process of measuring and offsetting carbon credits into a digital token on a public, permissioned blockchain network. Tokenization transfers ownership rights and redeems the underlying carbon offset. The good news, is that it will cost less than 1% for most consumer products to neutralize their carbon footprint. “Tracking the carbon footprint of each product using the blockchain would protect this data from tampering, and it can be used to determine the amount of carbon tax to be charged on at the point of sale. If a product with a large carbon footprint is more expensive to buy, this would encourage buyers to buy products that are more environmentally friendly, and would therefore encourage companies to restructure their supply chains to meet the demand for such products. A blockchain-based reputation system could also give each company and product a score based on the carbon footprint of the products they sell. This would make manufacturing more transparent, and discourage wasteful and environmentally unfriendly practices.”
For the last 150 years, civilization has made huge technological advances that are meant to improve our quality of life, but these advances have also resulted in the depletion of the essential resources that sustain life itself. “The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million.” Global climate change has observable effects on the environment; glaciers are shrinking, sea ice is decreasing and heat weaves are getting longer and more intense. Effective social media campaigns are raising public awareness about ecologically harmful consumer products. In the end, climate change and environmental degradation is a direct consequence of years – decades – of mass consumption with unpaid environmental costs (“externalities”). It’s time to make “externalities” history and invest in a sustainable future with exponential technologies.
About Todd Lemons
Todd Lemons is the Chairman of Veridium. For 28 years, Todd has been a recognized specialist in the development of market based solutions to environmental challenges. Todd has a demonstrated track record of identifying and optimizing natural resource misallocations and the value-to-price disparities they produce. He has lived, worked and built successful companies in South America and Asia, including projects in Guyana, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and China. Todd is the Co-Founder of EnVision Corporation, a technology incubator and lead investor in environmental sustainability solutions. EnVision has seeded several successful companies including: Composite Technologies, Infinite Earth, EcoSmart Labs and Veridium.