Hyperledger has launched the Hyperledger Climate Action & Accounting (CA2) Special Interest Group (SIG) to facilitate focused technical, business and global-level conversations and projects related to appropriate use cases for blockchain and compatible emerging digital technologies across the climate sector. 

For several years now, climate science has had an unequivocal consensus that global emissions should peak by 2020 and take a sharp decline to zero by 2050. 2020 is now here and yet we are nowhere near this goal. At a critical inflection point in the history of this planet and the global effort to prevent irreversible climate damage, this Hyperledger SIG is launched in an outmost timeline fashion to help bridge action between planet, policy, technology and economy.

SIGs gather community members from an industry segment to work on domain-specific problems and create an environment for open discussion, document co-creation and solution proposals. Hyperledger now has nine SIGs, including ones focused on healthcare, telecom, trade finance, supply chain and social impact.

Climate change is recognized globally as both a crisis and an opportunity requiring transformational change to attain sustainable societies and economies. Urgent action at a global scale is crucially important to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement (i.e., UN global climate accord). Five years later, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2020 highlighted “Climate Action Failure” as the top risk – ahead of all other major risks such as war and trade conflicts. Concerted action is often fraught with mistrust and lack of transparency among the scope of actors (countries, subnational governments, companies, individuals) due to uncertainty of distributed responsibilities and clashing incentives at the short-term level. Whilst the Paris Agreement is a globally encompassing framework to prevent warming above 1.5oC (relative to pre-industrial levels), it still lacks a clear mechanism enabling actors to “speak the same language” when recording and governing the use of climate-relevant data and verified actions. 

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) and other emerging digital solutions have the potential to provide trusted record-keeping processes, data consensus and rules automation — crucially needed components in order to align actors, accelerate mitigation and adaptation action, and mobilize the trillions of dollars of finance required annually. Hyperledger’s ecosystem and DLTs are central to the creation of a global and open climate accounting system that helps integrate all actors and actions under the same planetary goal. The Climate Action & Accounting SIG has launched to leverage Hyperledger frameworks and the Linux Foundation’s know-how for the development of an open source and decentralized climate accountability network that both operationalizes transparency (i.e., Article 13 of the Paris Accord) whilst enhancing each actor’s personal privacy, security, and control.

The scope of the SIG is defined by the terms climate action and climate accounting:  

Climate Action is a broadly encompassing term that involves all climate-relevant actions (e.g., policies, programs, technologies, goods, services) taken by actors (e.g., states and non-state actors such as businesses, cities, individuals). This covers the range from emission generating activities to the broad set of actions encompassed within climate mitigation and adaptation and its associated finance mechanisms.

Climate Accounting, on the other hand, is referred by the SIG as the encompassing term that involves all processes of recording climate-relevant information/data. This ranges from the physical state of the planet to the list of all climate actors, their broad set of climate actions and agreements in respect to the shared account of the climate challenge.

In other words, whilst climate action occurs in the real world, climate accounting is recorded in the digital world.

Through open and participative discussions, the SIG will help build the relationship between both climate domains and consolidate technological tools to do so.

The new SIG is led by two co-chairs: Martin Wainstein, PhD, and Tom Baumann. Martin is the founder and lead researcher at the Yale Open Innovation Lab at the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale, climate advisor to the Spatial Web Foundation, and manager of the climate & energy finance projects at the Digital Currency Initiative of the MIT Media Lab. Tom Baumann is the founder and co-chair of the Climate Chain Coalition, co-chair of the INATBA Climate Action WG (International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications), former international chair (2014-2019) of ISO’s climate change standards committee, as well as co-founder of several start-ups including Xpansiv, Adaptation Ledger, ClimateCHECK, GHG Management Institute, Collaborase, and NovaSphere.

The mission and goals of the Hyperledger CA2 SIG is to foster a collaborative network of climate, DLT other emerging technology organizations (i.e., universities, NGOs, government, startups, corporations, multilateral development banks, etc.) that can create a center of gravity around the role of DLT and open source software to address challenges in the global climate action, policy and digital accounting space. 

A focus point of the SIG would be to turn this network into action under a common open source project that defines shared protocols, standards, and platform tools for a globally integrated climate accounting system to be operationalized, and meet requirements by emerging initiatives like the FSB TCFD (Task Force for Climate-Related Disclosure). This open climate project can act as a shared initiative where participants can contribute value to and share explorations in the use DLT alongside other emerging technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data, and machine learning to address the challenge of keeping a transparent climate accounting system towards the climate targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The SIG community will take initiative to specifically address and develop:

  • Compile completed, ongoing, and proposed future activities related to blockchain for climate action & accounting
  • Create a directory of organizations and initiatives involved with blockchain and the climate space (map of organization location, contact person, description, website, etc.)
  • Consolidate the architecture of an integrated system, involving multiple blockchain mechanisms connected through shared protocols, allowing contractual automation in the link between finance and climate value flow based on the agreed physical parameter of the Earth system
  • Identify Hyperledger tools and frameworks to develop and maintain a single record-keeping ledger with global consensus (i.e., a ‘ledger of ledger’ where all parties agree)
  • Propose and define shared protocols and standards to allow interoperability across the climate accounting system and integrated platforms
  • Compile of best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations to stakeholders (policymakers, technology developers, etc.)
  • Support events (e.g., at blockchain and climate conferences such as COP) and related activities for collaboration among members and stakeholders.
  • Propose, discuss and define a longer-term strategic vision of an open innovation consortium that can help steward, fund, and maintain an open source climate action and accounting project and system

We welcome your participation. If you would like to join the Climate Action and Accounting SIG, please subscribe to the mailing list and join the chat channel where online meeting details will be announced. The CA2 SIG wiki page contains links to resources, activities, meeting minutes, project details and the active member directory. Find a list of all Hyperledger community meetings, including the Climate Action and Accounting SIG, on the Hyperledger Community calendar. We look forward to your active involvement and valuable contributions.