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SirWin
SirWin
SirWin

DePIN will drive environmental impact by being a solution for climate crisis | Opinion

Opinion
DePIN will drive environmental impact by being a solution for climate crisis | Opinion

Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to the author and do not represent the views and opinions of crypto.news’ editorial.

The impacts of the climate crisis are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Yet, our approaches to monitoring and addressing this existential challenge often feel outdated and inadequate. The decades-old climate models we rely on have significant limitations, failing to provide the hyperlocal, real-time, and comprehensive data we need.

Early climate models were constrained by the computing power of the time, unable to incorporate many critical physical processes or run at high spatial resolutions. The scientific understanding of key components like clouds, oceans, ice, and carbon cycle was also incomplete. These models struggled with inaccurate predictions, lack of observational data for validation, and coarse spatial grids that couldn’t resolve regional details. While they still captured overall global warming trends, these limitations hindered their accuracy and reliability.

In addition, obtaining valuable information that affects our well-being daily, such as air quality, noise levels, and light pollution, remains challenging today, especially in the population-dense areas many of us live in today due to high infrastructure costs. However, emerging technologies like web3 and decentralized networks offer a new path forward—one built on transparency, community ownership, and aligned incentives to drive the creation of dedicated infrastructure, resulting in bottom-up climate solutions.

How web3 empowers environmental monitoring at scale

The ethos of web3 is centered on decentralization, giving power back to individuals and communities. It’s about breaking free from relying solely on centralized approaches and enabling direct participation in systems that impact our lives.

For the climate fight, web3 offers a way to democratize environmental monitoring, creating a more transparent record and incentive structure for collecting critical data. It provides the tools for citizens to take climate action in their own communities.

This decentralized approach contrasts with current centralized models of environmental monitoring, where data collection and decision-making are often far removed from impacted communities. Web3 empowers local citizens to take ownership of environmental data, creating a tamper-proof, publicly accessible record of this data and enabling new incentive structures to encourage widespread participation.

Prime examples range from the effects of the 70,000 US wildfires that occur each year, as I experienced firsthand living in the San Francisco Bay Area, to the toxic air we breathe across Europe, to the world’s worst polluted areas in Southeast Asia. A piecemeal approach won’t scale to cover the vast areas at risk, and today’s public is more aware than ever of the dangers we face. This is clearly where the distributed, citizen-led approach of projects powered by decentralized physical infrastructure networks (DePIN) can be transformative.

DePIN represents a new model for deploying physical infrastructure by incentivizing participants to create and grow dedicated networks. In this case, the network is made up of climate sensors owned by infrastructure investors and climate-conscious consumers alike, rewarded by strategically aligned incentives to collect data. Participants can be rewarded with tokens or other incentives for contributing data from high-risk locations, aligning individual and collective interests.

This concept of incentivized distribution is a key part enabled by web3 models, creating a virtuous cycle of participation and impact. It’s about harnessing the power of decentralized technologies and aligning incentives to unlock new solutions to pressing challenges.

Realizing this vision of a web3-powered climate response won’t be easy. It will require overcoming challenges around data quality, governance, and accessibility, as well as bridging the gap between the web3 and environmental communities. But the potential to create a more agile, inclusive, empowered, and impactful approach to the climate crisis is immense. By embracing the ethos of decentralization and empowering communities to take an active role in environmental monitoring and action, we can build a more resilient and adaptable system for confronting the defining challenge of our time.

Benefits and possibilities of citizen-powered climate action

The vision of web3-powered climate action is compelling, but what could it actually look like in practice? The potential benefits and possibilities are immense.

While air quality monitoring exists today, it often lacks the hyperlocal data needed to fully understand our environment. A widespread network of community-owned sensors could fill these gaps, providing unprecedented insight into the invisible threats around us and a greater understanding of how to tackle the harms from it. Much like how Google Maps revolutionized navigation, a web3-powered sensor network could transform our collective environmental awareness, making granular data on air pollution, noise levels, and light pollution accessible at everyone’s fingertips.

But the impact goes far beyond just awareness. This data transparency can inform better climate policy and create new accountability. Communities facing outsized environmental harms can use this information to advocate for their needs and push for stronger regulations and enforcement.

Web3 use cases like DePIN open up many other possibilities for directly incentivizing positive climate actions. People can earn tokens to generate high-quality environmental data or measurably reduce their carbon footprint. These rewards could be redeemed for eco-friendly products or used to fund local sustainability projects, which are opportunities we are already exploring.

Reimagining climate monitoring for meaningful change

The limitations of current climate monitoring approaches have never been clearer. To meet the urgent challenge of the climate crisis, we need a paradigm shift in how we understand and respond to our changing planet.

But realizing this future will take all of us. It needs the collaboration of technologists and environmentalists, policymakers and everyday citizens. So consider this a call to action—an invitation to learn more, to find your place in this vital movement, and to help spread the word.

DePIN represents a powerful new toolkit for the climate fight. By empowering community members with data and agency, aligning incentives for action, and enabling granular understanding, it points to a future where we can mobilize a truly global response to this global threat.

Luca Franchi
Luca Franchi

Luca Franchi is the co-founder and CEO of Ambient, the world’s largest decentralized environmental monitoring network. He brings over two decades of leading growth at several startups and large corporations in the US and Europe (O2 UK, Telefónica, Sky) across enterprise and consumer verticals.