Carbon Coins: The Kryptonite We Need to Combat Climate Change

by Drishti Ranjan
Carbon Coins: The Kryptonite We Need to Combat Climate Change

March 9, 2021

Climate change, ultimately, is inevitable. Thanks to the social media and well, some awareness, the steps to curb carbon footprints are the new trend. From thrifting clothes to using apps to trace your carbon footprints, it’s becoming an everyday thing. The newest and most fascinating addition to this gig is the concept of carbon coins. In this article let's explore, what exactly are Carbon Coins?

In a world where climatic conditions are more erratic than ever before, we all are now bereft of the luxury of ‘believing’ in the concept of climate change. We’re aware of ramifications, yet we continue to provoke the environment and yet have the audacity to get startled whenever it reacts.

Growing population, exploitation of resources, and increase in the use of Green House Gasses are just some examples of our contribution in deepening the climate crisis, but with increased awareness, better ways of combatting this issue are coming to the forefront.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted the Paris Agreement in 2016, so as to achieve the global goal of limiting the increase in the global temperature to 1.5 degrees. It is a one of its kind legally binding agreement ratified by 196 countries!

Anyway, the point of bringing all this to the forefront is to point out that even though climate change, ultimately, is inevitable, but steps to curb carbon footprints are the new trend and carbon coins is one of those.

Climate change is often discussed in relation to its detriment to nature—how rising temperatures are causing glaciers to shrink, plant and animal ranges to shift, and ecosystems to adapt, as well as putting stresses on various species that could potentially lead to mass extinction.

Carbon Coins - The real concept from a book of fiction.


The concept of Carbon Coins evolved from a Science Fiction Book actually. In the book Ministry for the Future written by Kim Stanley Robinson, the author dwells into a hypothetical world where the leader of an international task force advocates the use of carbon coins as a form of currency to officials at central banks across the globe.

Though the book is based in a fictional setting, the research undertaken was not. Anybody who knows even a little bit about cryptocurrencies knows how much energy is needed to create even a single one. The book provides a concept which when incorporated, provides an incentive to emit carbon emissions. In that paradigm, industries stop dumping their trees in rivers, the trees grow back, pollution goes down and maybe, even the climate goes back to being ‘normal’


This book was inspired by Engineer Delton Chen’s proposal called the Global Carbon Reward, a currency that is based on carbon emission regulation. The book’s proposition actually saw some research following its concept and the results insisted that there could be a looming chance to salvage the planet using tools that we least expect to use. Furthermore, the proposals may appear feasible, but climate change reduction should be emphasized here to make them work.


The digital technology industry is one of the least sustainable and most environmentally damaging industrial sectors in the modern world.

The Debate Around Carbon Coins

When such proposals were brought to light, the impracticality of it was also highlighted. French economist étienne Espagne proposed the argument that for applying the use of blockchain into the physical reality, a lot of things had to be considered, for example, the fact that for providing incentives, taxes would have to be relied on which would, in turn, harm the economy, but eventually would lead to fostering a better environment. It can be looked at to be as a Faustian exchange, where for the sake of a better environment and sustainable growth, some present materialistic gains are overlooked.

Both sides have their merit, yet one common ground of consensus is the fact that for even remotely making this possible, the emphasis has to be laid on the importance of cutting down carbon emissions.


managing carbon footprint throughout the lifecycle of a product is crucial.

Not Just Carbon Coins, Carbon Markets Might See Future Too!

Steps are being taken to make this a reality. Recently, the concept of carbon markets came up. Carbon markets are essentially the process of trading carbon emissions via the mode of “cap-and-trade”. The governments are entrusted with putting a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by the sectors or stakeholders of the economy. The same stakeholders are then given allowances on how many metric tons of carbon they can emit. Those who emit less than their allotment can sell the extra to other businesses, pushing everyone to cut down emissions faster.

Theoretically, the concept of carbon markets was good enough in themselves to help with emission targets. However, that market has effectively collapsed due to concerns over environmental efficacy and corruption. Eventually, a wide gap emerged between the implementation in developing countries and developed countries.


Greenhouse gases—gaseous molecules made of three or more atoms, therefore having the ability to vibrate while they absorb heat—capture heat before it can escape into outer space and send it either toward the earth, in the direction of another molecule, or back on its original path towards the stars.

The Only Country To be Carbon Negative!

The gap between emission targets among countries has always been wide. Yet, there is only one country in the entire world that is carbon negative. The Kingdom of Bhutan. Owing to its low population and massive green cover (almost 70% of the country is covered in trees), it takes more greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere than it emits. This country absorbs roughly seven million tons of carbon dioxide annually and only produces around two million tons!

Such a wide absorption and production gap is a utopian dream for most other countries because neither does the population help nor does cutting down trees to make homes to accommodate the population! Let’s just hope carbon coins help us to achieve this dream.


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