Ecosystem, DLT, Hedera Guardian

Celebrating Earth Day 2024

Today we celebrate Earth Day, which since its inception in 1970, has catalysed significant environmental initiatives, including establishing the US Environmental Protection Agency and enacting pivotal legislation like the Clean Air Act. In recent years, efforts have expanded to include planting hundreds of millions of trees, promoting sustainable agriculture among farmers, and initiating global climate literacy projects. The influence of Earth Day has been critical in re-elevating environmental issues on national and international agendas.

Reflecting on where we are today, 2024 has presented significant challenges in climate change management, ESG accountability, and the pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, notably influenced by corporate green policies. Recently, the European Union’s Committee of Permanent Representatives faced a setback as the vote on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) encountered resistance from major member states like France, Belgium, Italy, and Germany. These nations voiced concerns, with proposed amendments including raising the employee threshold from 500 to 5,000 for companies to comply with the directive, which would significantly reduce the number of companies affected by this regulation.

This reluctance towards stringent policies is juxtaposed against the backdrop of worsening climate anomalies and faltering progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals as highlighted in the UN Special Edition Report of 2023. Temperature data from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) in 2024 confirms the escalating urgency. The need for more rigorous judicial and regulatory frameworks is increasingly evident as the global community grapples with these challenges.

In his recent book “How to Save Our Planet?” Mark Maslin (Professor of Earth System Science, University College London) pointed out that it is imperative for society to consider its history when dealing with climate crises, but also to greet innovation head-on. Widely applicable to the quite unfavourable reception of the current CSDDD deal, Maslin’s statement “We need to develop new modes of thinking for the 21st century to creatively and collectively tackle these challenges” poses a necessary reframing of social perspectives.

Political efforts alone are insufficient to catalyse substantial environmental progress. Instead, a more holistic approach involving technological innovations and socio-economic strategies is required to foster transparency and efficacy in sustainability initiatives. In this vein, the clarity of carbon markets and the accountability of ESG assets are of particular concern. The market's lack of transparency often leads to the prevalence of low-quality offsets, undermining high-quality efforts.

Addressing these challenges requires enhanced transparency and information sharing. Technology plays a dual role here; it can either complicate or clarify the sustainability landscape. For instance, while tokenization of carbon credits might obscure quality distinctions, leveraging technology like distributed ledger can enhance the auditability and comparability of environmental methodologies.

One way of addressing these challenges is leveraging the Hedera Guardian, an open-source platform based on distributed ledger technology, which provides the ability to easily design a policy workflow with verifiable evidence for environmentally friendly projects such as carbon offsetting. Guardian-based projects are transparent, efficient, and tamper-proof, and methodologies living on the Guardian are digitised comparably. This addresses the aforementioned obfuscation problems, for the benefit of individuals, SMEs, large corporations, accredited governing bodies for international climate standards, industry practitioners, and teams of technologists and creative engineers -- all to “bring the balance sheet of the planet to the public ledger”. Making all parties more accountable. 

The Guardian already boasts dozens of policies. However, many methodologies currently used are still not digitised (or where digitised, not open-sourced and made comparable). This was one of the key motivations behind the DLT Climate Hackathon. Supported by an ecosystem of teams from environmental sciences and trusted entities leading emerging technologies, as well as other social impact disciplines, this endeavour sought to seize the opportunity to redirect the attention away from blocked climate change agendas and underlying geo-political narratives towards simply a better-organised planet.

The recent DLT Climate Hackathon, which spanned three months, has made substantial contributions towards expanding this digital ecosystem. With 705 participants, from 66 countries, and 63 submissions, the hackathon has significantly enriched the open-source library of methodologies, advancing ESG accountability and regulation. This initiative, led by the DLT Science Foundation, the HBAR Foundation, and supported by organisations like Allcot IO, and Envision Blockchain, underscores the pivotal role of collaborative, technology-driven efforts in reshaping environmental governance and enhancing planetary management.

In just a few weeks the winners of the hackathon will be announced, but more importantly, many of these digitised methodologies are being adopted, and helping us take a step in the right direction, bringing “the balance sheet of the planet to the public ledger”, and making ESG initiatives more accountable and transparent.