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  • Matthias Barrett, Karl Prince

How can intermediaries use blockchain technologies and smart contracts to improve transparency in carbon markets?

The integration of blockchain technologies and smart contracts presents a transformative opportunity for intermediaries within carbon markets to enhance transparency and credibility. In recent years, voluntary projects like reforestation have taken centre stage in combating climate change. However, their scalability and validation remain critical challenges. Blockchain, emerging as a revolutionary digital innovation, offers a solution by enabling unparalleled traceability across the carbon market landscape.


At the heart of the bottleneck in voluntary carbon projects lies the validation process. This involves gathering precise data necessary for accurately assessing carbon sequestration and ensuring fair compensation for farmers in an efficient manner. Blockchain's foundational technology enables the development of a secure and transparent ledger dedicated to recording carbon transactions. This ledger, leveraging blockchain's inherent transparency, meticulously documents vital information such as the origin of carbon credits and their ownership changes. This traceability empowers stakeholders to track the journey of a credit from its creation to its eventual purchase, fostering accountability and trustworthiness.


The introduction of smart contracts could further elevate the transparency and fairness within carbon markets. These contracts utilise blockchain to automate and streamline transactions by executing predefined conditions without the need for intermediaries. Consider a scenario between a tree farmer and a carbon offset acquiring company, agreeing on a payment of £100 for 1 metric ton of CO2 sequestered by trees within a week. A smart contract can formalise this agreement, holding the company's funds until certain conditions are met. Within the specified timeframe, the farmer provides real-world verifiable data to the blockchain, confirming the sequestration of 1 ton. Upon meeting these conditions, the funds are transferred to the farmer; otherwise, they are returned to the company. This automated mechanism ensures the alignment of interests between parties, substantially reducing the likelihood of fraudulent activities or disputes regarding payments or project completion.


By leveraging blockchain technologies and smart contracts, intermediaries in carbon markets can revolutionise the landscape. This transformation enables a newfound level of trust, transparency, and accountability, addressing the pressing challenges of scalability, validation, and credibility that have long hindered the impact of voluntary carbon projects. The result is a more efficient, trustworthy, and accessible ecosystem, propelling the fight against climate change towards a more sustainable future.

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