Chaîne – A Blockchain for Climate Action
The Paris Climate Agreement was a momentous accomplishment, uniting all the world's nations in an effort to tackle climate change. We're proposing a technical project to unite the reporting of all the nations. We've named the effort “Chaîne” because we intend to utilize blockchains to manage and secure the reporting, and we’ve chosen the French word to highlight the Parisian connection.
We envision a solution that is bidirectional: on a global level it helps with the reporting of data and on a country level it helps with the collection of data. Thus both the UN and the 193 signatory countries stand to benefit.
The blockchain will have a main chain with 193 nodes. At the head of the main chain will be an application that creates reports and enables analytics on the status of all the countries. Each node will comprise two components: one to collect disparate information from within the country and another component to assimilate this information and transform it into the form required by the main chain. The structure can be modeled in the form of a blockchain for information collection, in which there will be 193 ‘child’ chains that periodically weave into the main chain. In effect, each country will have its own blockchain that will be customized according to their specific needs.
We've chosen water lilies as a visual metaphor for the infrastructure. Imagine a lily pad with 193 flowers. The flowers are the collection applications. Underwater, they all sprout from the same trunk which is the main chain. As time goes by and the water rises they grow. If the Paris Climate Agreement succeeds then over time the water level will stabilize into a healthy ecology.
Brief Technical Description
The infrastructure will consist of a private blockchain with 193 nodes, one node per country. Each country owns its node and will run its own data collection and collation app, which inputs data into its child chain running on that node. The facilitator of the main chain (we presume the UN) will stipulate the format and content to be fed into the main chain. So each node has two parts - the country's app and an adaptor that condenses and converts the data required by the main chain and feeds it in.
Each country's app will be customized for the data formats that the country uses for its reporting. We expect many of the apps to be similar or the same but some will inevitably be unique customizations. As the code will be open source, a country can also use its child chain for other purposes besides reporting its climate data, piggybacking on the functionality that the Chaîne project provides.
We are in the process of vetting various blockchain solutions and IOTA seems like a potential candidate because it's designed for IoT (Internet of Things) applications and uses a DAG “Directed Acyclic Graph”. This might be quite useful to implement the child chains because the nodes can be designed to obtain their information from IoT applications.
For storage of incoming data, both at the national and global level, we envision using IPFS. The InterPlanetary File System is a protocol designed to create a permanent and decentralized method of storing and sharing files. It’s a content-addressable, peer-to-peer hypermedia distribution protocol where nodes in the IPFS network form a distributed file system. IPFS is an open-source project developed by Protocol Labs with help from the open-source community.
A full technical description of the platform and data storage will be elucidated in a future white paper.
Why a blockchain?
Blockchain technology has a number of features and characteristics which will enhance the ability to report climate data, including:
1. Data integrity
Due to its hashing capability, data that is entered into s blockchain is extremely difficult to alter. Once approved by consensus it is immutable. Any change to data can be tracked in the chain, reducing the possibility for fraud or malpractice.
A blockchain does not have a central point of failure and is better able to withstand malicious attacks. Disaster recovery is inherently built into a blockchain as all parties maintain a copy of the ledger.
3. Storage & Speed
A blockchain provides for near-real-time updates of data across nodes. This facilitates speedier sharing and access to data for overview entities such as the UN. By utilizing IPFS it will allow for safe and immutable file sharing and facilitate large data transfer with high efficiency.
By providing a single source of accurate and immutable data, a blockchain is a repository of transactional data which can be used to develop better analytics. A singular view of each country’s position across all data points can be made available assisting in management efforts, collation, and steering.
We're constantly learning and researching the current reporting facilities and have examined the data formats. For instance, we've looked closely at what http://climateactiontracker.org/ has done. We’d like to collaborate with these organizations in order to utilize the development that they've already achieved, particularly for the reporting features. We are collecting our research and thinking in a 'Padlet' – https://padlet.com/abhimanyu_sarvagyam/dkbw3byaxprj – which we update regularly.
We’ll use the agile methodology for developing the solution and incorporate tenets like rapid prototyping and remote collaboration (both within the team and with end-user clients). All our work will be open source and utilize open source resources as much as possible, ensuring that we always build on what has been done before rather than reinventing the wheel. By implementing a blockchain to manage the UN’s data collection, assimilation. and reporting of climate action tracking, we think all parties stand to benefit from its inherent ability to enhance trust by providing security and guaranteed immutability of all data.
The Long View
We believe that, if this project proceeds, most of the work will be political. The technical construction is probably 20% of the project. In order to get it integrated with 193 countries there will be months of diplomatic and relation building time needed. We would be happy to play a core role in that process as well.
Co-authors to your solution
Abhimanyu Sarvagyam, Kit Blake
Link to source code or original files
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