Overcoming the dual crises of climate change and greenwashing with DigitalMRV

IOTA’s Chrysalis and Green IT ecosystem enables transformational change towards sustainable and regenerative practices

Key messages:

  1. IOTA[1] is very low power consumption[2] and avoids the unsustainable carbon footprint of Bitcoin[3] or Ethereum[4] (no need to spend extra money to build and buy more green power just for energy-voracious blockchains that could be used otherwise)
  2. DigitalMRV[5] is powered by IOTA to digitize measurement, reporting and verification of sustainability performance to help stop the greenwashing crisis (fake green news) and solve the crisis of confidence in sustainable solutions
  3. IOTA’s Chrysalis[6] upgrade will accelerate deployment of sustainability innovations that unite people, open-source technologies for social impact.

Enthusiastic programs for Earth Day 2021, including also the Leaders Summit for Climate to be hosted by U.S. President Biden, focus attention on the need to implement ambitious policies and transformational solutions to help restore the earth for future generations to flourish sustainably. Digital transformation is often considered an essential part of the path forward[7],[8].

Indeed, many working to solve the climate crisis have expectations for digital solutions (1) to generate trusted data and automate the analytics to support better and more climate-smart decision-making[9], and (2) to achieve at least 15% of the GHG emission reduction goals of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change by increasing resource efficiency including saving energy[10].

Yet there are more and more reports about greenwashing[11] — bogus and unsubstantiated claims about environmental impacts — that have become so bad that the government are passing laws that will levy fines on greenwashers[12]. That’s a good reason to implement digital MRV solutions, that are themselves also climate-smart.

Climate-smart digital solution?

Although there’s lots of attention on transformative technologies to solve the climate crisis, despite numerous energy efficiency improvements[13] the energy consumption of digital solutions continues to increase significantly[14]. The unsustainable carbon footprint of blockchain which has been reported for years[15] by numerous studies was again recently in the spotlight[16],[17]. Many stakeholders are understandably disillusioned with the potential of digital solutions, including blockchain, as the planet’s savior.

But not all blockchains are the same, actually, distributed ledger technologies (“DLTs”) like the IOTA Tangle which is a Directed Acyclic Graph (“DAG”) are not built like blockchains that have an unsustainable carbon footprint like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Although there are emerging initiatives to deal with the crazy level of carbon emissions of blockchains by buying renewable energy[18], IOTA was designed to be very low power use and for smart decentralization.

As an example, a low-powered device running an IOTA node uses less than 1/200th of the energy consumed by a 60W lightbulb to perform the PoW for one IOTA transaction (excluding baseline consumption of the device). This and its particular utility around data verification make it ideal for integration with energy-focused solutions and can provide a high level of trust and transparency for emissions reporting requirements.

To put this in perspective, for the same power consumption to do one Bitcoin transaction (980 kWh/transaction)3 it is possible to do over 600 million IOTA transactions (0.0000016 kWh/transaction). While arguments can be made that Bitcoin and other blockchains are more efficient than existing financial infrastructure, it can be seen that it is still wasteful when it comes to what is possible to be achieved through the revolution that DLTs, like IOTA, are bringing forth.

I live in Ottawa, Canada — some of this basic assessment of power consumed, cost, emissions is eye-opening

The cost of electricity is approximately $0.15 CAD per kWh[19]. The carbon intensity of Ontario’s electricity is approximately 45g CO2e per kWh[20]. The calculations about how long a transaction for each platform could power my is based on the electricity consumption of my house in 2020 of 15941 kWh (emitting 717 kg CO2e).

The emissions of 44.1 kg CO2e per Bitcoin transaction for me living in Ottawa, Canada are based on the carbon intensity of our electricity grid (45 g CO2e per kWh). If I lived in the USA, where the average carbon intensity of the electricity grid is 430 g CO2e per kWh[21], then the emissions for one Bitcoin transaction would be 421 kg CO2e. According to World Bank data[22], that is more than the a full year of emissions for one person in many countries.

Another perspective, in the ethos of distributed and decentralized approaches, is to consider the carbon intensity of Bitcoin transactions within the global carbon budget. As of Earth Day 2021, there is approximately 281 billion tonnes of CO2 remaining in the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement[23]. According to the UN, global population is approximately 7.8 billion people[24]. If the global carbon budget is distributed equally among the global population, i.e. a personal carbon budget based on an equitable sharing of the 1.5C global carbon budget in the atmosphere, then each person can emit a total of 36 tonnes of CO2. Using the US average of 421 kg CO2 per Bitcoin transaction means a person would use up their lifetime carbon budget in just 85 transactions. That’s obviously insufficient — thank goodness IOTA can do 600 million transactions for each Bitcoin transaction.

There is also a fee to do a transaction using the above platforms, except for IOTA — which is a feeless transaction.

DigitalMRV powered by IOTA as an environmentally-responsible digital solution in order to stop greenwashing

In 2020, ClimateCHECK[25] and IOTA established a strategic partnership and launched DigitalMRV[26] to digitize measurement, reporting and verification for climate actions. By using IOTA’s Tangle DLT to bridge onsite digital sensors with online reporting tools, the primary goals of DigitalMRV are to:

- Increase the confidence and utility of data and claims for climate actions and sustainability, that in turn help to mobilize resources to achieve sustainability goals

- Decrease the carbon footprint of conventional MRV, for example due to travel emissions from regular trips made by auditors to project sites

We are collaborating with a global network of climate programs and have designed our DigitalMRV solution[27] to support a wide range of applications such as projects that reduce emissions for carbon credits, low-carbon supply chains and products, facility emission inventories, and sustainable smart cities.

Launching IOTA’s Chrysalis

With the transition and imminent launch of the biggest update that IOTA has had to date coming on April 28th, 2021 the use of the IOTA Tangle reaches a major point in its development. The milestone signifies a point where the protocol is considered production ready for data use cases across all industries. With the transition comes a decrease in transaction size, the ability for reusable addresses, and major efficiency improvements currently benchmarking at least an extra 60% decrease in energy usage among other things.

The next step for ClimateCHECK and IOTA in their strategic partnership for climate and sustainability markets is to scale DigitalMRV implementations across various sectors and activities, expanding facility integrations and partnerships, refining solutions to eliminate greenwashing, and increasing our understanding of what impact we’re making on the planet. All done with open transparency, enabled by open source development, a robust and progressive ecosystem, and inclusive practices targeted at being available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Connect with Us:

Medium: IOTA Foundation

Twitter: @DigitalMRV, @IOTA, @ClimateCHECK,

[1] https://www.iota.org/foundation/social-impact

[2] https://greeniota.com

[3] https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption/

[4] https://digiconomist.net/ethereum-energy-consumption

[5] http://www.digitalmrv.earth

[6] https://chrysalis.iota.org

[7] https://gesi.org

[8] https://www.iea.org/reports/digitalisation-and-energy

[9] https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikehughes1/2020/12/23/digital-transformation-the-key-to-tackling-climate-change/

[10] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/why-digitalization-is-the-key-to-exponential-climate-action/

[11] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-regulations-finance-focus-idUSKBN2B11LM

[12] https://www.responsible-investor.com/articles/france-brings-in-fines-against-greenwashing

[13] https://www.iea.org/reports/data-centres-and-data-transmission-networks

[14] https://imtech.wp.imt.fr/en/2020/05/28/the-worrying-trajectory-of-energy-consumption-by-digital-technology/

[15] http://cleancoins.io/#/info

[16] https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/15/22328203/nft-cryptoart-ethereum-blockchain-climate-change

[17] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/05/bitcoin-btc-surge-renews-worries-about-its-massive-carbon-footprint.html

[18] https://cointelegraph.com/news/alliance-of-major-firms-aims-to-reduce-crypto-s-carbon-footprint

[19] https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/science-data/data-analysis/energy-data-analysis/energy-facts/electricity-facts/20068#L5

[20] https://ghgprotocol.org/ghg-emissions-calculation-tool

[21] https://ghgprotocol.org/ghg-emissions-calculation-tool

[22] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC

[23] https://www.mcc-berlin.net/en/research/co2-budget.html

[24] https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/

[25] http://www.climate-check.com

[26] https://blog.iota.org/iota-and-climatecheck-launch-new-digitalmrv-solution-and-strategic-partnership-e3c4f55c8958/

[27] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-digital-mrv-measurement-reporting-verification-tom-baumann-包譽文/

Transformational Change for Transformational Change

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