Using Blockchain To Save Forests with Todd Lemons on the Sustainable Jungle Podcast #sustainablejungle

Podcast #09 · Todd Lemons · Using Blockchain To Save Forests

“As companies begin to settle commodity transactions, for example, over the blockchain, or begin to integrate their supply chain using block chain accounting technology, that [gives] us an opportunity to use blockchain as an emulsifier to synthesize and literally match very specific, highly auditable environmental impact credits with specific commodities and the environmental impacts they had”

Todd Lemons

Todd Lemons is an economist, engineer and ultimately, an environmentalist (quite the unique combo). Over the last 25 years, Todd Lemons lived and worked in South and Central America, Mainland China and South East Asia. In that time, he has:

  • Served as CEO for EnVision Corp, an “incubator for sustainability technologies and a leader in the development of market based environmental finance solutions”
  • Founded Infinite Earth which “develops and manages tropical conservation land banks and provides environmental offsets and private-label CSR solutions to companies across the globe”
    • While at Infinite Earth, together with Biruté Mary Galdikas he founded the Rimba Raya Project, the first validated REDD+ project under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and helped define the criteria by which all projects are measured
  • Most recently, founded Veridium Labs, an “environmental FinTech company offering a real-world application of blockchain technology that uses cryptographic environmental mitigation offsets”

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Read our article about Todd Lemons and his work here.

For those who, like us, are not intimately familiar with carbon offsets and blockchain technology and want to understand more about what these tools are and they can be used to save critical ecosystems, this episode will be well worth a listen. We cover the following:

  • Todd’s background, his early connection to nature, studies overseas in Colombia and Chile and early career (~1.45)
  • Todd’s path to working on solving deforestation problems and how an engineering lens helped identify “gross misallocations of natural resources” (~3:00)
  • Todd’s first project in Chile using a market-based approach to address the conservation of a natural forest through economic incentives (~4:25)
  • Todd’s path to addressing deforestation in Asia after the Kyoto Protocols in 2005 failed to address deforestation (~6:45)
  • How the first forest carbon accounting protocol was created (now called REDD+ and part of the Paris agreement) (~7:30)
  • How Todd came to be focused on saving Indonesian Forests, the clearing and burning of which made Indonesia the third largest carbon emitter in the world (~08:00)
  • Moments in nature that influenced Todd’s decision to dedicate his life to saving ecosystems, including an encounter with a juvenile wild orangutan and swimming with whale sharks in Mexico (~9:30)
  • Todd’s experience visiting his favorite diving spots that have changed over the years to be full of plastic and acidification (~11:39)
  • The current state of affairs re the global deforestation problem and the threat to humans, including a collapse of biodiverse forests and the disappearance of fresh water (~12:40)
  • Specific statistics and impacts of the deforestation in Indonesia due to clearing for palm oil (~15:10)
  • Rimba Raya’s role, Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas and the 106 threatened and endangered species in the Indonesian forests, along with the famous Orangutans (~16:00)
  • Palm oil: why its use has spread around the world, why it’s virtually impossible to escape the use of it (~18:15)
  • The extent of the carbon emitted from the peatlands destroyed for palm oil plantations (10x the global average) and the impact on biodiversity (~19:20)
  • Historical approach to saving these forests and the extent to which they’ve been successful using the Orangutan Foundation International as an example (~21:25)
  • Why we need other tools as well as traditional conservation to address the severe deforestation rate (~22:40)
  • How serious are Indonesia and South America about tackling the problem of deforestation and how attributing economic value helps (~24.15)
  • What is REDD+ and how it serves to build in the additional costs of our consumption that we have traditionally not accounted for (~28:15)
  • How REDD+ works in practice including the concept land banking and why it’s sometimes labeled as a “sin tax” (~31:45)
  • What the ultimate goal is and using all the tools in our toolbox to address the balance of our consumption while policy and regulation take time to change (~36:05)
  • Overview of Infinite Earth and Veridium Labs as mechanisms to attribute value to natural capital (~40:05)
  • How Veridian Labs came to be and the problem it serves to address, including the disconnect between the impacts of complex, destructive supply chains and our consumption (~41:30)
  • What blockchain is and how Veridium Labs will use the technology to create “ecosmart commodities” and what this actually means, using the candy bar as an example (~45:55)
  • How the problem lies in the money itself and how an “eco-smart currency” (Verde) that automatically embeds an environmental charge into the cost of underlying purchase could work in practice (~50:30)
  • How the enterprise solution will work, starting with the Oil & Gas industry and IBM’s Oil & Gas trading platform (~52:40)
  • The Veridum Foundation and what it will do? (~57:00)
  • When will cryptocurrency (including Verde) become widely available and what will it look like (~57:30)
  • The Veridium Verde credit card for consumers and how it will work (~1::01:00)
  • The role of the consumer in driving change by making deliberate choices, clearly communicating our expectations and paying more for the ethically made products (~1:02:30)
  • Todd’s advice, tips, tricks for people wanting to have an impact in their day to day lives and careers (~1:04:30)

Notable Links

Todd Lemons

Envision Corp:

Infinite Earth:

Rimba Raya:

Veridium Labs:

Using Blockchain To Save Forests with Todd Lemons on the Sustainable Jungle Podcast #sustainablejungle

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