The carbon market sector is still, to this day, not sufficiently transparent. To offset one's carbon emissions, which are still roughly calculated, people buy credits whose real environmental impact is not known. This is why Therme Group, a global leader in urban well-being solutions, wants to completely redesign the instruments adopted so far in the carbon credits market to ensure transparency and security in the ways emissions are offset. The focus will be the so-called visitor economy, the tourism sector which relates to all activities generated by travel and leisure. A strategic sector in so many ways, which is however struggling to reduce its environmental impact, precisely because of the lack of technologies to accurately measure the most elusive emissions: namely the indirect ones, which for companies fall under Scope 3.
Therme Group’s innovative technology, developed in collaboration with the University of Surrey in the UK – with its recently established Institute for Sustainability led by the Italian professor and former Education and Research Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti – is based on a system that combines a carbon footprint calculator with a model called Carbon Tokenomics. Essentially, emissions are measured dynamically through a state-of-the-art carbon footprint calculator, which uses artificial intelligence to process a myriad of data: from the actual consumption during flights (e.g. according to the number of passengers and other factors) to the impacts generated by hotels.
“Approximately 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to tourism, a figure that will likely double by 2050 at this rate of growth,” says Therme Group vice-president Professor Eduard Goean, who has led two important studies on the Carbon Tokenomics model and its application. “Our goal is to provide the industry with a tool that enables precise carbon footprint measurements and support tourists with a reliable way to offset their CO2 emissions.”
Once emissions have been quantified, the user/ tourist can offset them by investing in sustainable projects, which is when the Carbon Tokenomics model comes into play. The technology, which is still in development, is based on the tokenisation of emissions that are recorded on a “quantum” blockchain, which can securely process millions of transactions per second.
“In this way, we can not only channel billions in investments to the industry through the rates paid by tourists for offsetting, but we also generate a parallel economy that creates further profits that can then be invested in green projects,” says Goean. “This all happens transparently, in a way that can be monitored by users.”
Toward carbon-neutral tourism
Therme Group believes that, given the current growth scenarios for the sector, this model is necessary for tourism to achieve carbon neutrality. Today, the instruments used for carbon footprint accounting and offsetting in the visitor economy are not seen as trustworthy, and, especially in a country like Italy where tourism represents a considerable slice of the national economy, the spread of the Therme-sponsored new technology could accelerate the green transition in the sector.
The project will require a period of gradual experimentation, starting from a first network of tourism platforms and hotel chains. After the launch of the technology at the world’s largest tourism fair (the ITB in Berlin) in spring 2024, Therme Group will also demonstrate the potential of Carbon Tokenomics to political decision-makers.
“Europe remains our focus because we want to make our continent a true example of sustainability, but our technology will be available everywhere,” Goean concludes. According to Max Lu, Rector of the University of Surrey, this partnership will “drive positive change towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” and in the words of Robert Hanea, CEO of Therme Group, this project “can help create the green economy of the future."
Image: Therme Group
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