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New Online “Inventory of Blockchains” Tracks Emerging Applications for the Environment

March 2019

Washington, D.C.—The hype around blockchains—the programming protocol originally created for the Bitcoin—is bidirectional, ranging from apocalyptic predictions of bitcoin energy use that will “destroy our clean energy future” to rosy scenarios that “blockchain technology can usher in a halcyon age of prosperity for all.” Given this lack of clarity, how do we ensure that the environment profits in the end? Fortunately, a new “inventory of blockchains” will help policymakers head toward the right direction.

“The blockchain space is expanding weekly and there are now dozens of innovative applications supporting pilot projects with energy and environmental implications,” explains Dave Rejeski, Director of the Environmental Law Institute’s Technology, Innovation, and the Environment Program. “While blockchain technology may be key to creating environmentally efficient business models and platforms, we can’t know for sure without a scanning system to identify promising applications for further study and evaluation. The blockchain inventory is the first step in filling that void,” he added.

The free, online inventory is searchable by category (e.g., energy, climate, food, supply chain, land tenure, genetic resources, waste, or water), type (e.g., app, token, protocol), and status (e.g., public, private, permissioned, or hybrid). It was created by the Project on the Energy and Environmental Implications of the Digital Economy, an initiative of the Environmental Law Institute, the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley Law, and the Industrial Environmental Management Program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The Project on the Energy and Environmental Implications of the Digital Economy seeks to leverage academic research across various disciplines in order to provide guidance on a number of high-priority issue areas at the intersection of energy environment and digital platforms. Projects range from understanding Uber and Lyft driver perceptions around electric vehicle adoption to looking at the environmental impacts resulting from the use of AI in the chemical manufacturing industry.

The initiative also serves as a reference source for scholars and practitioners at the intersection of energy, environment, and the digital economy. In addition to the inventory of environmental applications of blockchain, the initiative maintains bibliographies featuring key and current literature related to the sharing economy, blockchain, and artificial intelligence.

The blockchain inventory is available at: bcinventory.org.

For more on the Project on the Energy and Environmental Implications of the Digital Economy, visit: https://www.digitalenergyenvironment.org/.

Dave Rejeski is available for interview.