Carbon trading is getting the crypto treatment, and its latest orchestrator is none other than WeWork’s eccentric cofounder.
Three years after being ousted as CEO, Adam Neumann is launching a new startup called Flowcarbon that wants to put carbon credits on blockchain technology.
His idea — powered in part by a $32 million round of funding from famed Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz — is to make these carbon credits more accessible and easier to trade with the help of the company’s flagship product: the Goddess Nature Token (GNT.)
Businesses and individuals will be able to use these tokens —  each backed by a real-life carbon credit — to buy and sell the permits on the blockchain in a decentralized manner, making the opaque and controversial process more transparent. 
The new endeavor marks not only a turning point for Neumann following his fall from grace but also another high-profile tech founder leaping headfirst into the booming Web3 sphere.
Carbon trading, otherwise known as the voluntary carbon market, is when businesses buy and sell a limited amount of government-issued permits that they can “cash in” when they emit carbon.
The idea was to create scarcity in how much carbon the business world can emit. There are economic incentives in doing so — if a corporation doesn’t use all of its carbon credits, it can sell them to peers. Depending on the country, if it emits too much carbon, it may have to buy more credits. 
Neumann, per the website, believes this process is flawed, built on an “opaque and fractured market infrastructure” with credits that have little accessibility and brokers charging sky-high fees. That’s where Flowcarbon and GNTs come in. 
Flowcarbon did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but a spokesperson told Vox that the credits represented by the company’s tokens are issued from one of four major carbon credit registries. 
According to Flowcarbon and it and its backers, the blockchain is the perfect environment for trading carbon credits, given the technology’s innate transparency. 
Critics have long said the carbon trading market is inherently broken, which calls to question Neumann’s goal of simply putting them more in reach in the business sector.
And some people in the carbon trading space aren’t huge fans of integrating with the crypto world — Verra, one of the world’s largest carbon crediting programs, said last week that it wouldn’t permit its credits to back crypto tokens. It doesn’t help that climate advocates have condemned fundamental aspects of crypto as environmentally harmful thanks to the huge amount of energy the transactions require. 
Others, however, have noted how Web3 is the perfect space for the startup, allowing it to more easily fund projects that could reduce carbon from the atmosphere.
But on top of all of that is the fact that Neumann oversaw one of the tech world’s most infamous implosions in 2019, when WeWork was gearing up for an IPO. Regulatory filings for that offering gave an inside look at potential financial problems and turmoil at the coworking company. Eventually, the deal was yanked, and Neumann was ousted as CEO. 
A show recounting the debacle, aptly called “WeCrashed,” began airing on Hulu in March. 
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