September 17, 2018

ELI Member Seminar

As technology continues to evolve and advance, so too do the applications of that technology to environmental and energy regulation. Blockchain technology, the protocol underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is in and of itself a novel way to manage a variety of transactions. Blockchain is a distributed ledger system distributed among multiple computers. As a software technology, blockchain can be applied to all kinds of transactions, including contracts, patents, data gathering, and more. Blockchain is unique in that it can dramatically reduce or eliminate the need for intermediaries and can be paired with smart, or self-executing, contracts, to reduce transaction costs and time. However, critics have pointed to the energy needed to ‘mine’ cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and to the general hype around the technology that often obscures its potential value.

Blockchain applications for the energy and environmental sectors are nevertheless rapidly appearing, and examples include enabling peer-to-peer energy transactions for solar and wind energy systems; tracking the movement of objects in industrial, food, or natural resource supply chains; underpinning emission trading schemes; or verifying the ownership of land or genetic resources. However, blockchain’s use by regulatory bodies is still an open question as well as how to deal with issues around blockchain performance including speed and energy use, scalability, and interoperability, all of which could slow its adoption. There is a clear and urgent need to bring together environmental professionals with those developing blockchain platforms and applications.

Following the release of Blockchain Salvation, an ELI policy brief that offers an overview of this emerging technology and its promises and perils for the environment, ELI is creating a comprehensive inventory of blockchain applications with relevance to the environment and energy sectors.

Buck B. Endemann, Partner, K&L Gates LLP (Moderator)
Leslie R. Katz, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Dat Nguyen, Vice President of Special Projects, Sagewise
Dave Rejeski, Director; Technology, Innovation and the Environment Project, Environmental Law Institute
Ben Tejblum, Associate, K&L Gates LLP

ELI members will have access to a recording of this session (usually posted w/in 48 hours). If you are not an ELI member but would like to have access to archived sessions like this one, go HERE to see the many benefits of membership and how to join.