13 November, 2018

Decentralising climate change policy – Why it would work

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Historically, governments have played a fundamental role in human society. They’ve been relied upon to represent our ideals and beliefs, protect us from harm, and provide security, stability and trust to initiatives undertaken for our benefit.


What do we do though if a government is no longer acting in our best interest? What if they cannot be counted on to do what we feel is right and necessary?


One option would be to change government, but this can be a long, time-consuming process, which may not solve the problem (as it may be embedded in the political system itself rather than limited to one specific party) and would inevitably create a great deal of upheaval either way. In the event that we’re only wishing to address one shortcoming in particular, it’s complete overkill.


In such a scenario the more reasonable alternative would be to attempt to tackle the problem ourselves, without depending on government support. When it comes to large initiatives however, undertakings that would impact our economy, industry, and society as a whole, how feasible is this? Is it even possible?



Decentralisation, powered by the blockchain


One of the biggest obstacles to overcome with decentralisation, especially when it comes to enterprises whose repercussions will be particularly far-reaching, is trust. With a government-backed project the support of the government itself effectively ensures a degree of stability and credibility, but with a decentralised solution what guarantee is there that everything will be fair and above-board?


In the past addressing this issue would have been particularly challenging. In today’s world however, the blockchain makes it easy.


With the blockchain every transaction is logged, verified, and secured. Furthermore, each and every transaction is in the public domain (meaning they can be viewed by anyone at any time) and they cannot be deleted or removed. As a result, all blockchain transactions are completely accurate and inherently accountable.


As transactions are the base building blocks for everything on the blockchain, by guaranteeing their legitimacy the blockchain ensures trust from the ground up. By implementing additional protocols such as smart contracts (trackable transactions that are irreversible and execute automatically as soon as publicly-specified conditions are met) further transparency and trust can be guaranteed, without the need of a supporting third-party.


An easy way to think of it would be like a potential tenant attempting to rent a home from a landlord. In theory there is risk on both sides; the tenant could make payment and the landlord may not deliver the keys, and likewise, the landlord may supply the keys and the tenant may not pay their rent. In practice this risk is mitigated by third parties such as the government who enforce legislation protecting both tenants and landlords, as well as realtors, contract lawyers, etc. However, by relying on third parties to provide trust the cost of renting goes up (to cover third party expenses), the process can take significantly longer, and there is always the potential for human error.


With the blockchain and smart contracts there is no need for third parties and trust is still assured. Following the rental example, the ‘transaction’ of the tenant paying his rent is verified and the key is automatically provided. The process is quick, simple, and has zero chance of human error. In addition, as the blockchain is scalable and can handle vast amounts of data it can be rolled out easily and effectively at a global level.



Utilising the blockchain, decentralising is now easier and safer than it’s ever been. If governments and/or the political system as a whole aren’t acting in our best interests, and are failing to champion and push for initiatives which we feel are of the utmost importance, the blockchain gives us the ability to bypass them entirely.


When it comes to climate change and ensuring that significant, meaningful steps are taken to address it, we can finally stop waiting for the government and tackle the problem ourselves.