Sustainability is difficult for some people to grasp, since it seems like more of an idea than an actual object that can be touched or seen. While it is a concept, it’s an important one: Sustainability is a critical metric to everything humanity does now, since the very ability for our planet to support life hangs in the balance. We needed to come up with methods to measure the sustainability of everything we do, and scale that up to reflect what’s actually going on in the world, whether it’s fuel burned in transportation, agriculture techniques that reduce the impact of farming on greenhouse gas emissions, and how these ideas have an impact on what’s actually happening in the world’s atmosphere and soil, where the carbon ends up.
We have a model now that works, that shows the carbon intensity of production cycles, transport, and more. The model has received widespread acceptance and has been shown to work. That standard is the Argonne GREET 3.0 Model, which takes into account the entire carbon-intensity impact of a product from its beginnings as raw material through production processes from start to finish to delivery, using a life cycle inventory.
Using that model for counting carbons and the life cycle inventory, or LCI, of anything, means that the value can be recorded. The key to it is setting the model and tracking it. That’s where blockchain comes in. Blockchains maintain a record of transactions across a linked peer-to-peer network of computers. Because all computers retain control of the blockchain collectively, rather than any single user, the shared nature of the record makes it immutable and decentralized. Through the distributed ledger technology platform, Verity Tracking can set up smart contracts that allow for certain criteria to be set. Through the use of the Argonne GREET model, these contract conditions can be set and established.
The smart contract is a computer program or transaction protocol, which can automatically control, execute, or document legally relevant actions and events according to the terms of an agreement or negotiation. It functions just like any contract: one party meets a condition, which triggers an action by another party. Because of its decentralized nature, blockchain technology has proven a useful tool for establishing the protocols of a contract, and upholding them. When a sustainability value, such as carbon or the entire LCI of a product, is managed through blockchain, it is beyond reproach and immutable, and that has great potential.