People lining up for a treat this summer at Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop in London will have the chance to protect forests around the world.
That’s because the ice cream brand from Vermont is experimenting with a new form of blockchain-enabled carbon credits, according to Forbes.
After each purchase, the store will pay one penny to offset the carbon of the sale, and customers will then be asked if they want to double the impact by donating an additional penny.
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The meager payments will help fund carbon offset projects around the world, such as building renewable energy infrastructure or planting trees, Forbes reports.
As a comparison, the nonprofit Stand for Trees offers $10 forest credits to offset a single ton of carbon. Globally, carbon emissions surpass 37 billions tons per year, so selling carbon-offsetting ice cream will not solve climate change on its own.
But it could help to spur a broader reckoning with carbon footprints, Forbes notes.
The concept at the Scoop Shop comes from the Poseidon Foundation, a nonprofit that wants to give ordinary people the chance to participate in carbon markets and give companies the ability to offset their environmental impacts.
The partnership with Ben & Jerry’s is the first time this technology is being used in a real-world setting, according to Forbes.
Carbon markets, the foundation of the project, are designed to limit the amount of carbon emissions within an industry, state, or country. They work by limiting how much carbon a company can legally emit. Companies that want to release more carbon can pay other companies for some of their carbon shares, or they will be fined.
Generally, carbon markets, also known as “cap and trade,” take place on an industrial scale. But the Poseidon Foundation is using blockchain to break down carbon credits into “microtransactions” that can be applied to individual consumer purchases.
“The carbon market has a high barrier to entry, is inaccessible for the majority of us, and is currently not properly managed, so we're taking that market and making it accessible and transparent,” Poseidon founder Laszlo Giricz told Forbes.
Poseidon is currently working on an app that people can use to monitor and offset the carbon impact of their purchases.
“For the very first time, our platform empowers everyone to participate in climate action. It links your climate-negative purchase to an equally climate-positive carbon credit, allowing you to offset it instantly,” the organization explains on its website.
Items with larger environmental impacts will cost more money to offset, according to Poseidon.
How the organization determines carbon impact is unclear, but for ice cream a lot of factors would theoretically have to be incorporated.
Ben & Jerry’s, for its part, has long been committed to environmental causes.
The brand invests in clean energy, strives to limit the environmental impact of its supply chain, and advocates for climate justice, according to its website.
Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals, which call on countries to reduce their carbon emissions. You can take action on this issue here.