Blockchain technology could be used to increase sustainability – Arguments in favour from the European Environment Agency

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These are quotes taken from a briefing entitled ‘**Blockchain and the environment’** by the EEA ([https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/blockchain-and-the-environment](https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/blockchain-and-the-environment)); arguments they could find in favour of extended blockchain usage.

>The authenticity and integrity of transactions themselves are ensured by standard public-private key cryptography. With constant updates and validation made to the blockchain, as well as inspection of the complete history of transactions open (at least potentially) to everyone, unauthorised changes or tampering are almost impossible (JRC, 2018). **All these features make the ledger unique and immutable, ensuring trust among participants to operate their transactions.**

**-** Trusting the data

>Blockchain can make information about the **origin of a product, processes and the parties involved in related transactions and logistics visible, traceable and verifiable by all those in the supply chain** (Kouhizadeh and Sarkis, 2018). As the information is secured and time-stamped, it cannot be altered or modified, which reduces the risks of fraud and errors (EPRS, 2017). **This can support the application of sustainability criteria** for the selection of suppliers, vendors, materials and products, **as well as the design of more sustainable logistics networks and internal operations** (Kouhizadeh and Sarkis, 2018).

– Traceability of commodities; ensuring the source is sustainable

>Eventually, this would **help consumers to make choices that do not undermine environmental protection — or human rights and working conditions — in countries across the supply chain** (EC, 2019b). Experimentation is under way. For example, researchers have recently simulated the application of blockchain technology to electronically trace timber through its life cycle, combining an open source radio frequency identification system and a blockchain ledger to retain records in a secure and decentralised way (Figorilli et al., 2018). The Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification, **the world’s largest forest certification system, has signalled its interest in blockchain** (ITU, 2017).

– Ethical employment standards and sustainable farming

>Other blockchain applications potentially beneficial to renewable energy diffusion, energy efficiency and the reduction of energy consumption are being explored. IBM and Energy-Blockchain Labs are experimenting with a blockchain-based green asset management platform for trading carbon assets in China in a more efficient way (IBM, 2017). Some envisage a blockchain-based peer-to-peer energy transaction platform that would e**nable efficient electrical energy transactions between prosumers and lead to economic and environmental benefits** (Park et al., 2018). EnergiMine has developed a blockchain-based rewards system that **uses digital tokens to incentivise consumers to save energy** (Forbes, 2018).

– Changing consumer and supplier practices

[https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/blockchain-and-the-environment](https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/blockchain-and-the-environment):

The entire briefing is worth a read; **there are many counter arguments** to those quoted here contained within it – however, many of these relate to the the energy consumption of the ‘proof-of-work’ mechanism which is suggested to be counteracted by **”other approaches (such as ‘proof-of-stake’, ‘proof-of-authority’ or ‘proof-of-elapsed-time’ algorithms)”.**

The energy consumption of BTC miners is also specifically mentioned multiple times in favour of the ‘lack of sustainability’ argument – but use of eco-friendly energy sources (e.g. wind, solar and hydro-electricity) have been seen recently to overcome this impediment. For example, **Argo Blockchain**, a large-scale cryptocurrency mining company, has recently become the ‘[**First Climate Positive Cryptocurrency Mining Company**](https://finance.yahoo.com/news/argo-blockchain-becomes-first-climate-130000123.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAGfisQRwzzmAVPVcWBXpokStIhegDd3TSiTqtCj8Nk5Zc3OfyAOUCf7gM_FHvlN7JN4eMvIbOc2p9dC_DeVYpzsiU-0kSl0UQuuetDWTbWApJE9K94b6fOuIrQlA4bEsNgnENTptViXDJ3mLSw1yUkyhPdgSIbRWwv-kTYKr5Te2)’, so it can be done.

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