Stellenbosch Wine Routes and the Stellenbosch Street Soiree partnered with Toco

Stellenbosch Wine Routes and the Stellenbosch Street Soiree partnered with Toco

Stellenbosch Wine Routes and the Stellenbosch Street Soiree partnered with Toco to bring awareness around the mitigation of the effects of climate change. Toco, is a proudly Stellenbosch company providing a digital payment platform and digital currency, dedicated to reversing the effects of climate change.

We ask Paul Rowett, change warrior and CEO a few questions…

Q: What happens to the Earth as a result of global warming?

As context, it’s important to note that the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are sometimes used interchangeably, which is incorrect. Global warming is only one aspect of climate change. Climate change, on a geological time scale, has happened over millennia and is part of the Earth’s natural cycle. However, the problem since the industrial revolution is that greenhouse gasses produced by humans are acting like a thick blanket that insulates the earth, trapping the sun’s heat, which accelerates climate change and which in turn will then result in increased global warming.

Rapid human-driven climate change unfortunately does not give the planet’s natural climate sufficient time to adapt to the changes. Some typical results include rising sea levels and loss of land, periods of drought followed by destructive flooding, and loss of biodiversity due to plants and animals not being able to adapt to the rapidly changing weather patterns.

Q: What’s one way we can help prevent global warming?

The idea of the future effects of climate change can feel overwhelming for many people. However, on an individual level we can empower ourselves with the right knowledge, and move from concern into action. A large part of that knowledge will be to understand the extent of your own carbon footprint and finding ways to reduce that. Toco is one such way – it’s effectively a very practical tool where your everyday transactions and money needs are turned into an opportunity to directly participate in the fight against climate change.

On a national and international scale, our dependency on fossil fuel should decrease. On a societal level, we need to move from ‘the polluter pays’ principle (a commonly accepted practice that the producers of pollution should bear the cost of managing it to prevent damage to the environment and to humans), to incentivising pollution reduction.

Toco is also a solution to this. The more consumers use toco for their daily transactions (money and payment needs), the more carbon can be removed from the atmosphere. With increased uptake, it offers an answer to the global challenge of climate change where economic activity doesn’t have to be at the expense of the environment. In effect, it demonstrates that a new monetary system is possible where economic growth can also create environmental wealth.

Q: What is ‘carbon offsetting’?

On a societal level we need to move from ‘the polluter pays’ (which is good, but not enough) to incentivising pollution reduction. Carbon offsetting in general refers to reducing the impact of climate change by offsetting one person’s negative impact with the climate good done by another person.

So it might be possible if you can reduce your (or another entity’s) carbon footprint by significant quantities that you could sell the emission reduction offsets in some sort of incentive scheme. In essence, somebody will pay you for your lack of pollution achieved through mitigation (like planting a tree) or avoidance (like using less petrol or diesel).

The proof of pollution reduction and auditing can be very onerous as to ensure that any money paid for greenhouse gas reductions did indeed reduce the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere by the stated amount.

Think of carbon offsetting in this way: when you buy an ounce of gold, you get an ounce of gold, and when you buy a tonne of maize, you receive a tonne of maize. When buying carbon offsets, you are actually paying for less greenhouse gas pollution expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Q: Where did the idea of Toco come from?

We had a vision to introduce a new global payment platform that would enable communities world-wide to directly participate in the fight against climate change. Our main goals with Toco are: to accelerate carbon reduction activities; fix the current economic model to place value on the environment; unite a global community with the belief that carbon reduction has intrinsic value; give communities the power to act by bypassing the failing institutions; and create environmental wealth for all by investing in environmental assets.

Our governments and institutions are simply not equipped to deal with the accelerated impact of climate change. We need a global community united behind a single shared value: that carbon reduction is a valuable product for us all, and that anything that creates carbon reduction – whether it is a forest in Brazil or a direct-air-capture factory in Iceland – is a valuable asset for humanity and the economy, and should therefore be rewarded for that activity. Expanding and improving the current carbon markets will be a vital component in the fight against climate change.

We support the premise of carbon markets. They rightly assume the climate change problem arises from a market failure where the price of goods and services are not reflecting their true cost to society. Unfortunately, current carbon markets are rather small, illiquid and filled with trading friction. We think toco can play a significant role in changing that.

Younger generations are placing far greater cultural value on the environment. Similarly, the means to measure and demonstrate one’s personal contribution to ensure a sustainable future environment, is increasingly becoming more important to individuals and organisations alike. This makes carbon not only a good basis to store and exchange value, but also as a unit of account that demonstrates environmental value creation.

Q: How is Toco linked to carbon and what are the benefits?

The unit of trade, the toco represents one tonne of carbon dioxide that has been credibly removed from the atmosphere. In other words, using toco (the currency) supports the removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent for every 1 toco in use, by assisting to create more demand for the underlying carbon mitigation assets (CMAs).

The more people choose to use toco for their daily money needs the more demand is created for carbon assets, which stimulates and incentivises investment in carbon removal activities and projects. In this way it is possible for people to turn their everyday transactions into climate action.

Q: How does Toco work?

The word toco is short for tonne of OCO, the molecular formula for carbon dioxide. Each toco represents one tonne of carbon credibly removed or avoided from the atmosphere.

The toco has a similar monetary framework as the gold standard where the money in circulation was linked to the gold held in a nation’s central reserve. The central reserve’s function was to ensure that this relationship was maintained and that the convertibility of the currency into gold was maintained at a fixed rate per ounce of gold.

In the carbon standard adopted by toco, the relationship is maintained as 1 toco per tonne of carbon reduction achievable. Expansion of the money supply via the partial capture of the normal country currencies (fiat currencies, like Rand or Dollar) market transmits demand for carbon reduction to carbon markets. Tocos are stored in a digital wallet and used to pay for goods and services within the toco payment network.

Q: Where can I use Toco?

In Stellenbosch we are getting massive buy-in from local businesses. They get it. It is money. But reimagined, responsible and digital. Taking care of business suddenly also means taking care of the planet. We would encourage the community of Stellenbosch to support the growing number of local merchants who are coming on board. The current list of merchants accepting toco can be viewed on our website.

To start using toco, users must first undergo a verification process (like opening a bank account) once the payment platform has been downloaded. The platform is available on web, Android and iOS and can be downloaded from the respective app stores. The app is free.