Can carbon coins help reduce your carbon footprint?
For the past six months, ever since I started writing about green issues, climate change, and the finance industry, I have, with my family, consciously looked to reduce the amount of energy we use. Having calculated our carbon footprint, we decided that the areas for focus would be:
- The amount of energy we use at home
- Holiday destinations
Regarding travel, we have invested in a hybrid car with a plug-in battery that can get you 21 miles before the petrol engine kicks in. Train travel features heavily, and I am doing more walking and cycling. As an aside, it is incredible how many journeys we make in the car that are covered by battery power; according to the app that comes with our car, over 70% of our trips are electric.
The energy we use at home is a big one. We are a family of seven, and between eating, washing (ourselves and our clothes), heating, and of course charging our devices and entertainment, well, you can imagine what our electric bills must look like! But we have substantially reduced our energy use by re-thinking what and how we do things.
We have installed a log burner, which heats the room where we all congregate. Otherwise, the only other warm room is our kitchen. We have all got used to wearing multiple layers of clothes and multiple layers of socks. We aim to make the tumble dryer redundant and wash clothes on short cycles. Clothes are dried overnight next to the log burner or on the line.
It is working – our energy use has gone down.
Finally, holiday destinations. The pandemic obviously meant that travelling abroad was pretty much off-limits for the last couple of years. The testing costs and the sudden changes to a country’s COVID status meant that staycations were the only realistic option for a large family like ours. However, the dreariness of December and the darkness of January coincided with some positive changes to travel rules and regulations. The thought of some winter sun proved too much for us as a family.
Please don’t judge us too harshly. I was born in Kenya and lived in Fiji when I was a youngster. The sun holds an extraordinary place in my heart. Holiday booked, it was time to find ways of clearing my energy conscience!
Despite all the effort we had put in and the genuine gains we had made in reducing our carbon footprint, we were about to blow it all with a family trip to Egypt. I have written before about my concerns with many airlines’ offsetting schemes. The math doesn’t add up – the cost of offsetting for most is too low, and according to research by Greenpeace, there is “no evidence that many airlines’ offset schemes are backed by actual carbon savings”. There are problems with quality.
I started looking around for an alternative. My research took me to BetaCarbon.
BetaCarbon is a start-up fintech from Australia. They have tokenised carbon and created a carbon coin that can be bought as an alternative to offsetting. Australia has strict regulations about capturing or avoiding carbon through farming, reforestation, and so on. Australian Carbon Credits (ACCUs) are issued to businesses that carry out green projects.
BetaCarbon is an Ethereum-based token called the BCAU. 1,000 BCAU are minted per ACCU with one token equivalent to 1kg of captured or avoided carbon. These tokens can be bought, held, and traded in the same way as any other digital currency. By holding or trading tokens, the demand for tokens increases, triggering the need for more ACCUs and more green projects.
The founder of BetaCarbon is Guy Dickenson, who is ex-HSBC, having worked in senior roles across the markets and FX divisions of the bank. With his understanding of carbon markets and the Australian regulatory framework, he has connected the dots and developed BetaCarbon as a viable alternative to offsetting.
When I chatted to him, Guy’s view was that BetaCarbon was a “win-win”. By connecting crypto to a government asset, consumers are assured quality, and simply by holding BetaCarbon tokens, they are incentivising green projects. Guy went on to tell me that Australians can also use BetaCarbon to contribute to super annunation funds (the Australian pension).
Other companies and fintechs are also looking to connect blockchain with carbon. For example, the Spanish stock exchange, BME, has partnered with ClimateTrade to trial a voluntary registry of carbon credits. But this scheme is an offset and lacks the ACCU’s government guarantee.
This space is likely to evolve and expand, which must be a good thing. The reality is that people will not stop going on holiday and getting on planes. BetaCarbon demonstrates how connecting government accreditation and crypto can provide a viable alternative to offsetting.
About the author
He is a passionate customer advocate and champion and a successful entrepreneur.