Front. Blockchain
Sec. Blockchain for Good
doi: 10.3389/fbloc.2022.957316

Blocked Chains of Governance: using blockchain technology for carbon offset markets?

 Christopher Round1* and Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers2
  • 1George Mason University, United States
  • 2Radboud University, Netherlands
Provisionally accepted:
The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

Information and communication technology (ICT) plays a critical role in environmental governance; however, research into power in governance has not focused on the impact of ICT. In this study, we analyze the use of blockchain in a voluntary carbon offset market using the “Four Faces of Power” (compulsory, institutional, structural, and productive) conceptual framework to determine how ICT can change the power dynamics within a network of stakeholders. Proponents have proposed that blockchain technology can solve several issues that carbon marketplaces and offsets face, such as cybersecurity, traceability, and financial liquidity. Despite these proposals, there is little scholarship on existing cases using blockchain in carbon offsets. We found that the use of blockchain technology by the company Veridium changed the compulsory and institutional power dynamics within the network of stakeholders it was a member of. Veridium’s choice to use blockchain technology was likely the result of structural and productive power dynamics surrounding the technology at the time. The power dynamics changed because the use of blockchain for Veridium’s carbon offset market caused additional stakeholders to join the network of stakeholders. The new stakeholders held greater compulsory and institutional power than Veridium. This research contributes to the limited scholarship focused on ICT and power in environmental governance. Empirically it contributes to the ongoing discussion around the possibilities of blockchain technology for climate policy.

Keywords: Blockchain, Climate Change, environmental governance, carbon credit, carbon offset, carbon market, power, Informational governance

Received: 30 May 2022; Accepted: 29 Aug 2022.

Copyright: © 2022 Round and Visseren-Hamakers. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Christopher Round, George Mason University, Fairfax, United States