The Government of British Columbia (Canada)’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI) launched the Energy & Mines Digital Trust initiative to give natural resource companies, regulators, and customers the ability to verify their greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and share those credentials in ways that can be trusted.
Digital trust technologies (like Verifiable Credentials allow consumers to know where their products come from and enable producers of mineral resources to prove that they follow responsible practices.
OpenEarth Foundation partnered with the Mines Digital Trust initiative to allow BC companies to also share their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions credentials to the OpenClimate platform so that they can be integrated into BC’s subnational climate inventory and showcased to interested purchasers and civic society.
Video overview of the BC’s Mines Digital Trust pilot and proposed digital solution presented at COP26
OpenClimate is an open source and digitally integrated climate accounting system designed to help the world achieve the emission reduction targets set in the Paris Agreement. Its purpose is to remove frictions in climate accounting, by working towards interoperability between different standards, reducing double counting and catalyzing coordination towards climate goals.
In the scope of the Pilot, PwC issues Scope 1 greenhouse gas Verifiable Credentials (VC) to companies in their mining sector. Companies share the VC with the OpenClimate platform, which, having cryptographic proof of being issued by a trusted entity (i.e. PwC), automatically verifies its source and incorporates into the Company’s dashboard and integrated into BC’s subnational climate inventory.
This interoperability is possible without a specific integration because BC Gov and OpenClimate are using the same standards based on the Trust Over IP model (TOIP) —a Linux Foundation project with the mission to provide a robust, common standard and complete architecture for Internet-scale digital trust. TOIP combines cryptographic trust at the machine layer and human trust at the business, legal, and social layers.
Open and Interoperable Infrastructure:
OpenClimate aims to kickstart the development of open and interoperable climate data and trust ecosystem, or what we at OpenEarth have coined as the “internet of climate data”.
In order to do so, the first steps are defining the standards on which identity are recognized and data is transferred. For that, Hyperledger Indy and Aries are being used. Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) and Verifiable Credentials (VCs) play a key role in setting up the base layer of this infrastructure.
Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are a kind of identifier that is controlled by its subject (person, organization, thing, data model, abstract entity, etc.) and does not depend on a centralized registry, identity provider, or certificate authority (unlike an email address).
In simple terms, it is similar to an Ethereum address that relates to a wallet that can hold assets, although instead of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, these wallets hold Verifiable Credentials.
Verifiable Credentials (VCs) are a set of attributes about someone or something that are packaged in cryptographically secure, privacy respecting and machine-verifiable way. Typically, credentials are digital versions of physical licenses, cards, documents, or certificates, but they can represent all kinds of abstract data.
The next step is defining standards on how the data packaged into the Verifiable Credential. VC schemas are a list of attributes that contain the necessary information.
For climate use cases they include information like:
- Credential Issuer: who is the entity that is issuing the credential. Generally an organization that validates that the information contained is true.
- Organization name: who is the entity that is receiving the credential.
- Facility name: to which facility does this data correspond to.
- Facility location: where the facility is located. Can be an address, coordinates or a boundary.
- Year: to which year does this data correspond to
- Scope 1 GHG CO2e emissions: the total Scope 1 emissions for that period
- Methodology: the methodology used to calculate the emissions
- More fields: such as the breakdown of different gases, more information related to the methodology used, etc.
Defining these schemas is a key part of the interoperable infrastructure since actors must use standardized schemas that are applicable to various use cases and that are future proof. In OpenClimate we are starting with very basic schemas to take the first steps forward, but invite other organizations and experts to participate in their definition.
The following step, is defining which actors can be trusted issuers of the various different Verifiable Credentials that make up the ecosystem. For that, a trusted registry can be created, which includes the names of the trusted issuers and their related DIDs (i.e. their public unique identifiers).
Once all these layer are defined, actors can connect in trusted ways and send climate data through standardized schemas without needing a centralized party to manage the ecosystem. Any actor can verify who is the source of the information, if that entity is trustworthy, and validate that data has not been tampered with.
In this use case, companies can prove their emissions reductions and share that data in a way that is trustworthy to customers, regulatory bodies, financiers, and other institutions. For example, buyers of the copper could be certain that the material coming out of a mining company in BC has a lower carbon intensity than the industry benchmark by inspecting the verifiable credentials. This is essential to drive markets for differentiated commodities.
Furthermore, since the data is anchored at the facility level, with geospatial information, it can be used in the creation of a subnational emissions inventory, by nesting the facilities inside the boundaries of that subnational actor, as well as the national level. For example, the emissions from the mining facilities inside of British Columbia will be accounted for in British Columbia’s inventory, and also in Canada’s. In this way, inventories can be created more efficiently, with less manual oversight and the data can be traced back to the point source where it came from, in this case facilities, for greater transparency.
For more information watch the recording of the presentation of the Pilot at the Hyperledger Climate Action and Accounting Special Interest Group on March 8, 2022 featuring Martin Wainstein from the Open Earth Foundation, Nancy Norris from the Government of British Colombia and Kyle Robinson from Briartech Consulting.