Climate Action Token Ecosystem (CATE)

Climate Action Token Ecosystem (CATE)

The goal is to develop a new system of rewards around actions that reduce emissions, increase community resilience or increase human connections. In a carbon token ecosystem, emissions reductions are measured and compensated by volume. On CLEANetwork.Earth, a “beginner” points system has been established where people can earn points for taking “target actions” on the site and elsewhere (taking courses, sharing on social media, starting a group, etc.). TCE welcomes collaboration, we just want to get this off the ground and be a part of it if possible.


[Note: this was part of The Climate Economy’s 2019 Strategic Plan, so there are some references to that.]

TCE needs to create a system of value that people can use to create, promote and perpetuate individual climate actions to reduce emissions. The inspiration for the system, for now we’ll call it the Climate Action Token Ecosystem (CATE), includes:

  1. The American Carbon Standard (ACS), a carbon accounting system with standards, verification and registration of big carbon offset projects. This includes “methodologies,” which are pre-approved guidelines for new projects. CLEATS will be like this but for individual action. 
  2. The “carbon token ecosystem,” a self-regulating system of onboarding projects through “verifiers,” produced by token-earners, the “generators,” and consumed by offset buyers, the “consumers.” Through the interaction of verifiers with consumers and generators, using blockchain, projects are matched up to produce an offsetting system that is verifiable, globally distributed, and much more.
  3. The “CarbonActionNow!” standard for “verifiable personal emissions reductions (VPERs) The site has concepts and tools for individuals to create projects, get sponsors for projects and earn VPERs, which are then retired by the sponsors, the funds of which are used to purchase US RECs.
  4. Fine-tuning and integration of the models above by TCE.

System Components

  1. User Groups
    1. Players – individuals, groups, businesses, etc. that aim to earn tokens through participating in “expressions,” which reduce personal greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Partners – businesses, groups or individuals that want to “empower” tokens by purchasing them from those who earned them, and recirculate them into new expressions. These are also businesses, organizations, schools, etc. that host expressions, see examples of expressions below.
  3. Verifiers – Specially trained and certified individuals who help people sign up for expressions or help build new ones. There will be different levels of training offered. Mostly involved with measurement-type issues, understanding life-cycle analysis, etc., and helping to educate others.
  4. Catalysts – Specially trained and certified individuals who help people understand carbon footprints, greenhouse gas emissions, etc., and the importance and benefits of reductions. Also will be different levels of training available. Also will be responsible for getting new people on the CATE, involved in TCE in various ways. “Recruiters” of a sort, through education.
  5. TBD: New categories are expected to arise, such as businesses that help to recirculate tokens through valuation and promotion of expressions, or other new businesses that are started up as a result of the emissions reduction activities.


  1. Units of Value
    1. Climate Action Tokens (CATs; Compare to carbon credits or VPERs)
      1. CATs are earned through what we will call “expressions,” which are ways that people can earn tokens. Tokens have a designated value in terms of emissions reduction (TBD). For example they may represent one pound of emissions reduction, or a smaller unit (a fraction of a pound). We need expert advice on this to determine best unit of measurement.
      2. CATs themselves have no monetary value attached to them. We’re not making people rich, we’re making them smarter and more responsible. Your behavior is a currency. Your responsibility is a currency.
      3. Specific Financial Savings – you save money by being less wasteful, more efficient.
      4. Rewards – certain levels of token attainment result in “rewards,” both literal (e.g. a local business gift certificate) and figurative (“level up”).
      5. Dopamine – People like the shot of dopamine they get from their good behavior. 
      6. Better health – Many climate actions will result in better health, for example taking the stairs instead of the elevator, reducing the amount of red meat in diets, and breathing cleaner air.
      7. Long-Term Assets – everyone gets a score, let’s call it your CAT ID. It becomes part of your identity. Your past actions won’t count but you can still include them in your portfolio as “legacy” points. You can get “legacy” points through personal witnesses and documentation
      8. Depending on the expression, tokens will be immediately issued upon an action, or, for example if part of a long-term investment in solar panels, they will mature over time. This portion of your future tokens will show up on your profile.
      9. Tokens can be recirculated into new projects when they’re “empowered” by partners. Once your tokens are empowered (purchased), the money that comes in from those is used to buy additional offsets in new expressions. So the tokens can have a long history they’ll be attached to. Your profile will include information about what percentage of your tokens have been empowered, and which percentage you still have available for empowerment.
    2. Expressions (Compare to Methodologies on ACS)
      1. These are emissions reductions projects that people can subscribe to. These are new projects being set up by The Climate Economy and partners.
      2. We will need to establish some kind of peer-review process for onboarding new expressions.
      3. Each expression will have a number of earnable tokens issues to it, depending on the goal and type of emissions reductions.
      4. Expressions will be based on known research of activities that are the low-hanging fruit in terms of an individual’s capacity for reducing the most emissions possible in the shortest amount of time.
      5. Examples of expressions:
        1. Individual Project – we can do some manual verification through useage reductions on electricity/water bills and eventually automate. When a player makes a verifiable purchase of a low-carbon vehicle or appliance, they get tokens.
        2. High School Project (high school is partner): Cafeteria – kids get tokens for lowest carbon food choices
        3. Legacy Points: My mother can get points for her decades of aluminum can recycling through verification of at least five people (e.g. her kids); I can get legacy credits through the purchase of my Prius last year. I have documentation proving I bought it. Legacy points will show up on your profile, but don’t go towards your CAT ID. We just want to give people who have already done a lot of actions prior to being able to get tokens for them a chance to get that out there.
        4. Example Business/Organizations Projects: Only individuals can earn tokens, but businesses can sponsor expressions that their employees can subscribe to. The aim of businesses in this process is to get to net zero through their own emissions reductions followed by offsets through running their own expressions for their employees or through empowerment of players’ expressions. Businesses would work with verifiers who would evaluate their emissions profile and help them develop expressions.
        5. Youth Climate Economy Ventures Expressions: we will teach our high school kids how to develop projects based on this model.
      6. We will probably need to have some kind of fund for individuals/groups to be able to apply for startup funds (business expressions should be internally funded). There could be grants or loans.YCEV expressions will be supported by the program’s sponsors.


  1. Operations
    1. Iteration One: Measure and Empower
      1. We work with partners to establish expressions that players can subscribe to and earn tokens. This also requires a verifier, possibly working with catalysts.
      2. People register, subscribe to expressions, and earn tokens. They build up their own individual CAT ID/profile through what they earn and what they do with their tokens. They can just hold on to them or they can put them up for “empowerment” where they’ll be purchased and recirculated, the funds of which will go towards new expressions. Eventually they can help choose which projects they want their their empowerable tokens to go to, and show the history of their impact.
    2. Iteration Two: Envision and Build
      1. A Minecraft-style game mode is enabled where users can work by themselves or in groups to build worlds for inspiration or to model real-world projects. The game will open design-thinking to the world and let creativity guide humanity. It will include the many complexities in projects in real life, with measurement of life cycle emissions, tradeoffs, help to identify unforeseen side effects, etc.