Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report. With all the discussion around human impact on climate, you’d think we’d be making significant progress at this point. Yet the message was not good:
The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.
The UN body warned of catastrophic events by the year 2030 if we continue on our current path, which is why I needed to talk to Evan Caron.
Caron, co-founder and managing director of Swytch, began his career as an energy trader. As his understanding of energy deepened—how we use it, the economics around it, its impact on the environment—Caron went from being skeptical of climate change to founding a blockchain-based platform that tracks and verifies sustainability efforts centered around carbon emissions. If you’re a city government or corporation, you can be incentivized in Swytch’s token reward system.
Our approach is business-to-city—we call it B2C—and also business-to-business. We partner with cities that have a desire to be more sustainable and more renewable and really understand the levels of renewable, sustainable targets, and make sure that they’re achievable. Then we work with corporations that generate energy from fossil fuels as well as multinational companies that have a mandate for sustainable investment strategies.
Individuals can partake as well, tracking their sustainability efforts at home and in their cars. In fact, Caron hopes we reach a day when we treat energy as a Commons, understanding that it is a finite resource. Individuals and the communities they’re part of will recognize their energy consumption as a collective; when they’re rewarded for good behavior there will be a snowball effect. First and foremost, however, we have to look at the biggest producers:
The goal is to start with energy companies that have an understanding of their impact, specifically ones that build renewable energy resources and focus on creating a better system for them, with the intended consequence of generating a new form of what I would call “valuation for energy activities.”
Caron hopes that by incentivizing communities and companies in such a manner, regulations will follow. This Herculean effort must be championed by the people. As the Indian novelist, Amitav Ghosh, writes in The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable.
The fact is that we live in that has been profoundly shaped by empire and its disparities. Differentials of power between and within nations are probably greater today than they have ever been. These differentials are, in turn, closely related to carbon emissions. The distribution of power in the world therefore lies at the core of the climate crisis.
Ghosh notes that we can no longer be “confined by boundaries.” This might be difficult in a world in the midst of populist, nationalist movements, but what’s at stake is larger than any nation or tribe. We can no longer delay in realizing this reality. It’s time we swytch out of that mindset.