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Blockchain alliance aims to track carbon credits to fight climate change

IBM is helping with the effort to make it easier to use programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
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Veridium Labs, with help from IBM, has launched a blockchain network designed to track how companies or other entities buy and sell carbon credits. 

Veridium Labs/Screenshot by CNET

Carbon credits are a common mechanism used to help cut carbon dioxide emissions that fuel climate change, and now there's a blockchain technology project to try to improve the idea.

Veridium Labs, with assistance from IBM, has launched a blockchain network designed to track how companies or other entities buy and sell carbon credits. Carbon credit systems cap allowed carbon dioxide releases but let companies that don't reach the cap sell credits to those who go over. Carbon credit systems also let companies pay others that do things like plant forests to offset their carbon emissions.

So why use blockchain for it? In a nutshell, blockchain technology builds trust into any kind of system that records transactions.

Blockchain is the accounting ledger technology that underlies bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, It distributes copies of the ledger across numerous computers so everyone in a network is in effect working off a single record of all transactions -- a record resistant to tampering and easy to audit. That may sound boring to you, but fans -- and there are lots of them -- see it as a huge step up from laborious reconciliation systems and middlemen to ensure everybody agrees that party A really did pay party B.

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Watch this: What the heck is blockchain?

"Blockchain based digital assets, or tokens, enable innovative ways to buy and use the underlying carbon offset since they can move and settle swiftly across networks," IBM said of the project. "Integrating the entire process of carbon accounting and offsetting into a digital token on a public, permissioned blockchain network can help make measuring environmental impact, transferring ownership rights, and redeeming the underlying carbon offset more efficient."

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