The carbon markets are being highly criticised for their inability to deliver on their founding principle — to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. There are a number of reasons they’re not reaching this goal, namely because of their highly intermediated and fragmented nature [1, 2, 3].
The recognition of these problems has brought with it calls for a meta registry — a central location that stores the information from a number of underlying data sources . If implemented across the existing carbon markets, a meta registry could seamlessly unify the global registry systems, providing greater efficiency and transparency, whilst catalysing market participation .
Institutions have advocated for this concept, including Mckinsey, who state that a post-trade infrastructure, comprising of clearinghouses and meta registries, are necessary for voluntary carbon markets to function effectively . Meta registries could provide custodian-like services and create a standardised reference number system to streamline interactions, similarly to how ISIN is used in capital markets.
As the global carbon markets develop and new regulation sets collaborative parameter, countries may be able to work together on achieving their mitigation strategies. Although this could be highly beneficial for achieving global emissions reductions, carbon market infrastructure must also adapt. If the current fragmented market were to underpin such a collaborative future there could be significant accounting issues, exposing the markets to error or fraud, ultimately undermining market trust and scalability .
The next stepping stone in the development of a carbon market meta registry is the incorporation of blockchain technology. Blockchain can provide a more advanced data infrastructure that inherently strengthens the transparency and traceability of transactions. Currently, transparent and timely reference and market data is not readily available, largely because access to data is limited and the OTC (over the counter) market is difficult to track . From this perspective, both buyers and sellers would benefit from a new marketplace that offered unified and transparent reference data from multiple registries, which could be easily integrated through APIs.
Furthermore, utilising blockchain technology to tokenise carbon credits also provides benefits, for example improving market functionality by increasing liquidity . The ability to provide fractional ownership and trade fungible tokens, makes the size of purchases more flexible and thus more accessible to those with less access to finance.
Changeblock aims to create a meta registry underpinned by blockchain technology to provide a transparent, accessible, and trustworthy platform that facilitates the scaling up of carbon markets, while also improving efficiency. This integration is the next step in what is already a rapidly developing market with huge potential.
A special thanks to Charlie Terry for writing this article. This piece was written as an illumination of the background conditions that helped to form the Changeblock platform.
 Pearse, R. and Böhm, R. 2015. Ten reasons why carbon markets will not bring about radical emissions reduction. Carbon Management. 5(4), pp.325–337.
 Boyle et al,. 2009. Transforming from the CDM to a Clean Development Fund. Carbon & Climate Law Review. 3(1), pp.16–24.
Blum, M. 2019. The legitimation of contested carbon markets after Paris — empirical insights from market stakeholders
 World Bank. 2021. Testing the use of blockchain to build a meta-registry for decentralised climate markets. Available from: https://olc.worldbank.org/content/testing-use-blockchain-build-meta-registry-decentralized-climate-markets-0
 HIS Markit. 2021. IHS Markit Carbon Meta-Registry Q&A. Available from: https://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme.org/sites/default/files/2021-03/Meta-Registry%20QandA%2009MAR2021.pdf
 Mckinsey. 2021. A blueprint for scaling the voluntary carbon markets to meet the climate challenge. Available from: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/a-blueprint-for-scaling-voluntary-carbon-markets-to-meet-the-climate-challenge
 Nazareth, A, 2021. The Role of distributed ledgers in the voluntary carbon markets. The regulatory review. Available from: https://www.theregreview.org/2021/05/12/nazareth-role-for-distributed-ledgers-voluntary-carbon-markets/