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New WEF Paper Explores the Role of Blockchain to Scale Carbon Markets

New WEF Paper Explores the Role of Blockchain to Scale Carbon Markets

March 24, 2023

This week, the World Economic Forum released a white paper on Recommendations for the Digital Voluntary and Regulated Carbon Markets. This paper is a product of the Crypto Sustainability Coalition Working Group, of which our CEO, Dana Gibber, and Head of Policy, Adam Shedletzky, have been active participants. 

The paper briefly discusses the challenges facing the current voluntary carbon market (VCM), including a lack of transparency and standardization, inaccessibility, and insufficient scale. It is encouraging that a prestigious and global organization like the WEF is not only beginning to recognize the potential of blockchain technology to address many of these challenges, but is working to hash out the details of implementation.

The paper gives several recommendations for the next generation of digitally native carbon markets:

Improvement of governance

The governance of digital carbon markets is a critical component of scaling the market. Key principles for effective governance include transparency, inclusivity, flexibility, and scalability. Integrating vulnerable populations in governance processes enhances the credibility and viability of carbon projects. Building local capacities for participation and industry understanding is essential to overcome incumbent power structures and facilitate diverse perspectives in decision-making. 

An accessible marketplace

Adopting a common baseline naming and reporting standard for carbon credits ensures comparability and can help highlight non-carbon attributes like the Sustainable Development Goals. Open and transparent exchanges can also showcase the differences between credits. Building these on blockchain further enhances data capture, analysis, and auditability. An accessible market coupled with technological innovations allow digital carbon credits to be used in unique ways like integrating emissions compensation directly into everyday purchases and industries' operations.

Applied technology for scalability

Emerging technologies unlock new opportunities in the voluntary carbon market by enhancing automation, reducing overhead, and improving efficiency. Digitally native carbon credits allow for direct connections, greatly reducing market friction and improving market scale. Open-source monitoring protocols further ensure accurate data, fostering trust and driving impactful climate projects.

Platform interoperability and transparency

Market players need to focus on building systems, not silos. APIs are critical for this because they connect different systems, improving verifiability, reducing transaction costs, and promoting transparency. Collaborating with industry working groups can drive standardization, accelerating the growth of carbon credit markets.

Current carbon credit markets have fallen short in achieving the desired emission reductions. Emerging technologies like blockchain offer potential solutions to increase transparency, efficiency, and equity. By harnessing these technologies and empowering widespread participation, we can bring forth a new era for the carbon market.

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