Here’s the theory: Instead of linking carbon and biodiversity credits to the sale of raw materials such as forests, which cause CO2, what if you linked them to crypto tokens, and thus kept these CO2-producing materials in the ground?
That’s the theory behind Single.Earth, which has now raised a $7.9 million seed funding round led by Swedish VC EQT Ventures to, in its own words, 'tokenize nature’. Also participating in the round was existing investor Icebreaker, and Ragnar Sass and Martin Henk, founders of Pipedrive. The funding will be used to launch its marketplace for nature-backed MERIT tokens.
Single.Earth says its 'nature-backed' financial system will use using MERIT tokens. Given the market for carbon credits is estimated to be worth more than $50 billion by 2030 and crypto surpassed a $2 trillion market cap in 2021, their plan might just work.
It plans to build a 'digital twin' of nature that reveals how much any area of ecological significance in the world absorbs CO2 and retains biodiversity. Using environmental data such as satellite imagery, it aims to build global carbon models on which to base its token marketplace, generating profits through carbon compensations, 'mining' a new MERIT token for every 100 kg of CO2 sequestered in a specific forest or biodiverse area.
The MERIT tokens are then used to trade, compensate for a CO2 footprint, or contribute to climate goals (as the token is ‘used up’ and cannot be traded anymore). Companies, organisations, and eventually individuals will be able purchase these tokens and own fractional amounts of natural resources, rewarded with carbon and biodiversity offsets. The company says the market for carbon credits is estimated to be worth more than $50 billion by 2030.
Because of the traceability of blockchain and its link to a tradable token, payment to landowners would be immediate.
Single.Earth was co-founded in 2019 by CEO Merit Valdsalu and CTO Andrus Aaslaid. Valdsalu said: “Nature conservation is scalable, accessible, and makes sense financially; what’s more, it’s vital to engineer a systematic change.”
Sandra Malmberg, Venture Lead at EQT Ventures, added: “Oil was the new gold, data the new oil; now, nature is now the most precious and valuable resource of all. A company having a hectare of forest saved as a key metric to scale is a company we are thrilled to back. Disrupting the economy and financial markets with a new tradable and liquid asset class that has a positive impact on the environment is an irresistible investment.”