A common problem with climate solutions is that we want somebody else to do something about the climate. Let's get the oil companies to stop drilling. Let's get farmers to use less fertilizers and less water. Let's get building owners to improve energy efficiency. Let's get people to fly less, drive less, take more public transportation, etc. etc.
Then we see it's not working, and we're frustrated and upset. We end up shouting at each other on social media instead of solving problems.
The truth is, when other people don't do what you want them to do, it's probably because you didn't understand them well enough in the first place.
Meanwhile, when we can't do something that we're afraid of, like climate change, we get angry. But as Master Yoda teaches us, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
But we don't have to go down the path to the Dark Side. This DAO is an experiment in using the open source principle of "scratching your own itch" to come up with climate solutions. If you want to do something about climate change, then do something. Right where you are. Build something that works for you, based on your real needs and experiences, first. If it works, then get others to use it.
When you get on a flight, there's probably a checkbox to offset your emissions.
But where does your money go? What are these "offsets" the airline is offering to buy for you? Does paying to "plant trees" really help the climate? Or is it just the airline's way of making you feel better?
At home, you probably use electricity. You could get solar panels. Have you? If not, why not? If so, how much good does it really do?
You probably also use natural gas. What could you do there for the climate? Is "sustainably sourced," "renewable," or even "carbon neutral" natural gas real?
This seemingly simple questions have big implications:
- Are carbon offsets real?
- What is the right pathway for airlines and utilities to decarbonize?
- What is the role of oil and gas companies?
We're here to answer those questions, based on direct personal experience.
Me: Would you like a free copy of my book on climate investing?
Me: Great. Could you just send me $10 to cover my shipping cost?
This is a basic lesson from marketing: People will take things more seriously if they have to pay for them.
That's why you should buy some offsets with your own money. It doesn't have to be a lot -- just one flight or one month worth of home heating will do. But it will focus you on whether your real money is leading to real climate benefits.
Fact of life: Your first job in climate isn't going to be setting national or international climate policy.
You'll probably be gathering data and making sales pitches. Welcome to the real world, but don't get disappointed. This is what solving real climate problems is all about: data, analysis, and convincing people.
This DAO will help train you for getting that first job. You'll have a chance to work on getting data, from yourself, your friends, and companies. You'll learn to analyze the data and make recommendations. You'll do this in the context of other research we've identified and work by other DAO members. You'll get reputation tokens and badges for your work.
So when you sit down for your interview, you won't be talking about some school project paper (which will make interviewers roll their eyes) or your political views (NEVER do that in an interview.) You'll be able to point to a real project, where you used real world data and convinced people to do something. That works.
Nobody -- sellers, buyers -- wants to disclose the prices they paid for offsets. Companies don't want to disclose what offsets used to be "carbon neutral."
Because we all know, deep down inside, they're too good to be true!
How could it cost only $1, $5, or $10 to offset a ton of CO2 when research shows they should cost at least $100 per ton to be effective. So we buy them to meet government rules, put "carbon neutral" on a product, or just feel better about the flight we took. Then we keep quiet about them.
Some would say the way to fix this is to make offsets easier to buy. Easier to buy = more demand = higher prices. This is generally true, but not in the case of offsets. The problem with offsets is that they are not truly valid, if there's no "additionality" or hurdle for them, then an infinite supply of them could be issued at very low prices. It's free money for a project developer whose project already pencils out economically.
And of course, "easier to buy" usually means a lower price.
But this is not just for fun. Here's what at stake: If done correctly, they could funnel much needed capital to developing markets and reduce emissions while the world transitions. If done incorrectly, they are simply licenses to pollute and emit more CO2. They're the placebo that will delay us from taking real action...until it's too late.
Offsets are necessary but they're not simple. We can't figure this out by writing white papers or shouting at each other on twitter. We can only figure this out by working on a specific use case.
The Oxford Offsetting Principles sound great, but how does it really apply? For every industry, a different solution is required. A ton is not just a ton. They must be used and aligned with the industry's emissions reductions. In some cases, they simply should not be used. In other cases, they are necessary as a bridge.
Where should we draw the line?
This DAO will answer that from a real personal experiences air travel. It is something many of us experience, yet it's also complicated and difficult to decarbonize. IATA, for example, shows that offsets will play an important role for aviation for at least a decade (source):
IATA Airlines Reliance on Offsets over Time
But CORSIA's list of eligible offset is too broad. (See CORSIA TAB comments, Carbon Direct/Carbon Plan/Berkeley Carbon Trading Project TSVCM Comments.) This range of eligible offsets lets airlines "meet" their climate obligations for as little as $1 per ton of CO2 for a decade.
So now is our chance to use our personal experiences to understand climate action at a deep level. We'll voice our opinions, but very importantly, we'll buy offsets with our own money and stand behind them if they turn out to be invalid. That makes us take them more seriously. "Proof of stake." :)
The goal of this DAO is to leverage those experiences to develop analysis, software, and ultimately expertise about analyzing companies' emissions and climate strategies and the carbon offsets markets. We will follow open source practices to be an inclusive, community-driven, and open group. A DAO will help formalize the reputations earned and work done.
Each member of the DAO commits to:
- Record their own travel emissions.
- Participate in discussions, such as what the right way to calculate emissions is or which offsets or sustainable fuels credits are legitimate.
- Vote on the issues we discuss.
- Purchase DAO-approved offsets or sustainable fuels credits, though not necessarily from the DAO or its members.
- If later the offsets or credits are shown to be invalid, replace them with new purchases.
This DAO is for serious climate thinkers only. It's not for you if you're looking to ape a cryptocurrency or think climate is easy. It's not for you if you're not willing to think seriously and objectively and change your mind when the facts require. It's not for you if you're more interested in winning than getting closer to the Truth.
Everyone is welcome to participate.
You will get reputation points for activities such as:
- participating in discussions
- taking courses, for example on analyzing companies' climate disclosures or carbon offsets
- producing content, such as articles and courses, on these topics
Once you have a high enough reputation, you will get NFT badges for your skill level. Some badges will allow you to participate in DAO votes, such as valid carbon offsets or ratings of companies' climate performance. Other badges will qualify you to be an emissions auditor on the network.
Your reputation will decline over time. You will also lose reputation tokens for making the wrong votes. So if you do not continue to contribute, you will no longer have badges or be able to participate.
The DAO is not here to make money selling offsets or credits. Nor is it here to create a cryptocurrency for speculators.
We're the open source expertise that could be paired with open source carbon accounting software Our long-term business model create business opportunities for its members based on their reputation and expertise. Ultimately we want to build enough expertise and momentum to design and implement offset and decarbonization programs for companies big and small. Think of us as a decentralized TripAdvisor, Yelp, Instagram, or TikTok for climate, but with more credibility. Our members are climate influencers.
DAO votes may be funded, so the participants will get direct compensation based on their vote.
We're just getting started. Right now:
- Please test calculating your own travel emissions at emissions-test.opentaps.org. This is on a testnet. We'll soon set it up on the live net.
- We've published our first canons for decarbonization and offsets, the Tao of Decarbonization. Please give us your feedback on discord.
- Discussions can happen on discord
- Vote can start on discord and be moved to a DAO