Gaja Climate
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Gaja Climate

Introduction to Gaja

Gaja logo: sky blue symbolizes the atmosphere, green represents the environment, and the significance of the elephant and name is below

For investors who just want a quick spiel of what’s in it for them, check out this article. NB: I explain that at the moment, I’m not planning to work on Gaja, so it would be nonsensical to invest. Decentr is unproven, doesn’t have a production app, and I don’t have enough savings to self-fund development of a carbon marketplace on Holochain, blockchain, or a centralized backend. I also have insufficient software development experience to procure any customers or investment.

The below information was an edited transcript of a video that was used for an Indiegogo campaign, with modifications in brackets.

[Note that due to a bug with Indiegogo, I am currently unable to add additional links* to the page there, so for better readability I have created this Medium post.]

* Specifically, in-text links like the above campaign link, where the visible text is different to the URL, although I can paste raw URLs.

[There have been so many additions to this article that I suggest that you just read this article rather than watch the video.]


Greetings and love to all of you. My name is James Ray. [More info about me is below.] I would like to share my idea for building a global emissions trading marketplace, which I have called Gaja, and open up fund raising or investment to the general public.

My background

Regarding my experience, I have been involved with Ethereum and then Holochain, assisting with software development with Rust, for about two years. I also have experience in the renewable energy industry, including as a Technical Support Engineer at Sungrow, as a Project Manager at ShineHub, and as a Sales Consultant for Vista Power Technologies. I studied renewable energy engineering at UNSW. [Here’s a link to my LinkedIn profile.]

I live in Sydney, have lived here for the past 9 years since I came to study at UNSW in 2011, and I was born in and grew up in the Blue Mountains, which is west of Sydney, and part of the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Region. [This About Me page also lists my hobbies and has some social links.]

Meaning and significance of the name Gaja

Let me first talk about the name Gaja. Gaja has a couple of meanings. The first is that Gaja is a Sanskrit word for elephant. Climate change is “the elephant in the room”; it is one of the most important crises of our time. As an elephant can symbolize abundance, growth, prosperity, wisdom, so too can Gaja wisely avert dangerous climate climate change, restore the world to a safe climate, and greatly increase economic growth that is sustainable. I also love elephants—they are very social and intelligent animals, as illustrated e.g. here.

Cute baby elephant cared for by parent

As elephants have been hunted for their ivory, we also ought to act as responsible environmental stewards by protecting them. So too it is with the entirety of the atmosphere, environment, and this Earth. We have a responsibility to impact the environment positively on the whole, and avoid—as much as possible—actions that impact it negatively.

[Climate science 101]


[The overwhelming consensus amongst climate scientists is that increasing greenhouse gas emissions are causing an increase in the average global temperature; and that the increase in greenhouse gases and corresponding warming or heating is due to anthropogenic (human-induced) factors, largely since the beginning of the Industrial era. By way of analogy, if you lie down on a bed and put blankets over yourself, you will get warmer. The heat radiated by your body is absorbed by the blankets. Similarly, by increasing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it is similar to putting extra blankets over yourself, but just more subtle because greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are invisible.]

[Climate scientists also affirm that the less we do to prevent global warming or global heating, the more we will have to adapt and suffer.]

[Tipping points]

[There are also negative feedback mechanisms known as “tipping points”*[1b]. For example ice caps and glaciers melting due to warmer temperatures, causing the darker land or sea to become exposed, and more sunlight to be absorbed by these darker surfaces, which then causes more heat to be radiated, and then absorbed by more greenhouse gases, causing the atmosphere to become hotter, and so on.]

[Some snippets from the above article [1b]:

Self-reinforcing feedbacks in the carbon cycle and planetary reflectivity could trigger a cascading set of tipping points that lead the world into a hothouse climate state.

Cascading tipping points

Crossing a threshold in one part of the climate system may trigger another tipping element to tip into a new state. These are so-called cascading tipping points.[34] Ice loss in West Antarctica and Greenland will significantly alter ocean circulation. Sustained warming of the northern high latitudes as a result of this process could activate tipping elements in that region, such as permafrost degradation, loss of Arctic sea ice, and Boreal forest dieback.[6] This illustrates that even at relatively low levels of global warming, relatively stable tipping elements may be activated.[35]

Timothy Lenton at Exeter University, England and his team of researchers, had first warned in their landmark 7 February 2008 PNAS paper, about the “risks of climate tipping points.”[36] In 2008, Lenton and his team “thought the dangers would only arise when global warming exceeded 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.”[36][7] A new study published in Nature on 27 November 2019 by Lenton and 6 co-authors, warned in language that is “much starker” than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s forecasts,[37] that risks are “much more likely and much more imminent” and that some “may already have been breached.”[37]

Tipping point effects

If the climate tips into a hothouse Earth scenario, some scientists warn of food and water shortages, hundreds of millions of people being displaced by rising sea levels, unhealthy and unlivable conditions, and coastal storms having larger impacts.[35] Runaway climate change of 4–5 °C can make swathes of the planet around the equator uninhabitable, with sea levels up to 60 metres (197 ft) higher than they are today.[57] Humans cannot survive if the air is too moist and hot, which would happen for the majority of human populations if global temperatures rise by 11–12 °C, as land masses warm faster than the global average.[58]]

[Read more about climate science, for example, here in an Australian context, [1d], and here in a more generic context, although still somewhat US-centric from NASA. [1e]]

[Pour ce qui est de l’avenir, il ne s’agit pas de le prévoir, mais de le rendre possible.– Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Citadelle, 1948]

[Translation: As far as the future is concerned, it is not a question of foreseeing it, but of making it possible.]

Carbon budget and the Paris climate agreement

The global carbon budget to limit warming to 1.5 degrees is projected to run out in under 8 years. The Paris climate agreement urged efforts to limit the increase in warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, while reaffirming a commitment to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. To reiterate, note that the more the total carbon budget that increases, the more there will be adaptation and suffering. Conversely, the less the total carbon budget, the sooner emissions peak, and the sooner emissions reduce while removing more greenhouse gases, the less we will need to adapt and suffer. It established a common framework that commits all parties to put forward their best efforts and strengthen them over time. [2]

Emissions trading

[Pictures can often explain things better than words can. The following three pictures illustrate how a cap and trade emissions trading scheme (ETS) works, including offset credits e.g. for clean technology projects and reafforestation. All emitters are allocated a fixed quota of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions units, based on a total cap on emissions (usually determined by policy and climate goals, such as the above carbon budgets), the number of emitters, and possibly other factors such as the size, age and efficiency of the technology. Emitters are incentivized to reduce their GHG emissions below the cap, so that they can then trade the unused allowances with emitters that emit in excess of their limit or allocation, in return for money, where the amount of money is determined by the price on emissions, which in turn may be determined through market processes such as auctions and sales, or through regulation.]

Cap and trade emissions trading diagrams

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “cap-and-trade [a type of emissions trading scheme] is the most environmentally and economically sensible approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions, the primary cause of global warming, because it sets a limit on emissions, and the trading encourages participants to innovate in order to emit less.”

However, a major problem is that there is currently no global emissions trading market [let alone one that enables participation with all kinds of emissions and offset activities, from all kinds of entities]. Emissions trading does exist in different countries and states, and emissions trading has expanded around the world. The below infographics on the state of emissions trading are three out of five from [2c]:

Emissions trading infographics: scale of government participation; state of play worldwide; and its history of expansion

In list form, participants of emissions trading include, roughly in decreasing order of size as of May 2020: [2b, c, 4]

  • a planned national trading scheme for China, with a significant pilot program between 5 Chinese cities and two provinces [4, 5]. At its launch, expected by the end of this year, it will be the largest ETS worldwide.
  • the European Union;
  • South Korea;
  • the Western Climate Initiative consisting of California, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia (although the latter does not participate in any emissions trading) and previously including other US states and Canadian provinces; [3]
  • New Zealand;
  • trading and offset mechanisms through the Kyoto Protocol;
  • Tokyo;
  • programs for specific pollutants in the United States such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides;
  • north-east US states with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”);
  • a voluntary scheme between U.S. corporations via the Chicago Climate Exchange;
  • India (not an emissions trading scheme, per se, but more like an offset scheme with mandatory energy efficiency compliance); and

Note however, that the offset scheme with the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol has been difficult to prove (World Bank, 2010, pp. 265–267). [6] A 2020 study found that the European Union Emissions Trading System successfully reduced CO2 emissions even though the prices for carbon were set at low prices. [7] If a global carbon trading marketplace existed, that allowed for grassroots, [bottom-up participation], this would help to enable a transition as soon as possible back to a safe climate, while enabling global economic growth. I’ll be giving more examples that illustrate that later in this article.

[Voluntary vs mandatory/compliance markets]

Carrot and stick approaches: incentives, markets and trading vs regulation and taxes

[Gaja is likely to be initially only a voluntary market for emissions trading. There is also a possibility of linking it to mandatory markets, or future schemes potentially using Gaja for mandatory markets. There is a market for voluntary sustainability schemes such as carbon offsets, and GreenPower. Compared to carbon offsetting, a voluntary emissions trading market and software can actively enable consumers to inform their purchasing decisions.]

[For example, when buying a car, consumers can see the (voluntary) additional cost of emissions from an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV), which can vary according to the fuel efficiency of the car, aerodynamics, kilometres travelled, mix between city and highway/rural driving, etc. They can compare this with the lower operational cost of electric vehicles (which is lower even without emissions pricing), and this may help to tip the scales and the economics of purchasing an electric or hydrogen vehicle rather than an ICEV. The voluntary emissions pricing can also act as a signalling tool, to help people increase awareness of the impact of emissions, and consequently be incentivized to reduce their emissions.]

Backing technologies

Gaja is intended not only to be a global carbon marketplace, but also to be a fully distributed application, utilizing three very innovative technologies:

  • Holochain, an incredibly scalable, secure, and unenclosable distributed app (dapp) framework. There is a great introduction to Holochain and its power of unenclosability in a series of six articles, that starts with this post here (the whole series is well worth the read). The below image shows the difference between centralized networks (like Facebook and Google), decentralized networks (like public blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin) and distributed networks (like Holochain apps and BitTorrent). The 6th post in the above series also gives an explainer of how exactly Holochain is a framework, by working as a distributed database for apps.
Types of network architectures: centralized, decentralized and distributed
  • Decentr, which offers the ability to reduce the cost of transactions by making data valuable as a currency, and who are also running a crowd funding campaign which ends in a couple of days on the 16th May; and
  • Holo, a distributed or crowd web-hosting platform. This page also provides a more succinct introduction to Holo and Holochain, with links to more detailed explanations.

The learning from developing a market will also assist in the development of other dapp marketplaces, such as for goods, real estate, ride-sharing, renewable energy, aviation, and much more.


A global marketplace for emissions trading and climate accounting is critical for transitioning to a safe climate, and a prosperous, equitable world

In the spirit of building fully distributed applications (known as dapps), I want to open up fundraising to the general public first. Dapps can enable a wave of greater innovation through grassroots stigmergic collaboration. Decentr economics and the Holochain dapp framework are a powerful combination, that, in my opinion, are unmatched in their potentiality for building usable, scalable and secure dapps. A global marketplace for emissions trading and climate accounting is critical for transitioning to a safe climate, and a prosperous, equitable world.

As an application of Decentr —[thanks to Decentr’s unique economic model that causes increasing engagement with useful data to lower the cost of transactions] — Gaja will help to transition away from the woes of capitalism, including exploitation [(e.g. sweat shops and other unethical or unsafe treatment of workers and animals)], extraction, artificial scarcity, inequality, rising debt, [externalisation of negative impacts (like pollution)], and boom and bust cycles. By being built on Decentr, Gaja can also help to transition towards a fairer society that uses data as currency, giving data-as-currency an intrinsic value, like gold, [as opposed to fiat currencies, which have no intrinsic value, and are are only as strong as the governments that back them.]

We are now at a point, where for new-build energy generation, solar and wind are cheaper than fossil fuels in areas that count for two thirds of the world’s population, and 85 per cent of the globe’s electricity generation. Also, batteries have halved in costs over the last two years, which means that batteries are now the cheapest new-build technology for peaking purposes in gas-importing regions, like Europe, China, and Japan. These facts are according to a recent Renew Economy article. [1c] Costs of renewable energy continue to fall, while over the long-term, costs of fossil fuels are projected to increase, as their finite resources decline. Having a global emissions trading market will further incentivize innovation, such as with clean energy technologies and emissions removing technologies.


In order for Gaja to be a global carbon marketplace, it will need to interoperate with other markets. [I am leaning toward building open source for a few reasons:

  • open-source is good for Decentr because the data generated and that can be shared will be valuable, literally, with Dec and PDV
  • it will be easier to gain trust and support from the community, since development will be transparent and verifiable
  • if someone forked the codebase, it seems that there is not much that they could do, other than creating valuable data. They would also have to convince people of why their fork is better. And, if they create a successful fork, it’s a win-win-win for all parties, because the fork developer creates value, the original software can still grow in value due to value attribution to the original data source. And app user-agents get the benefits of better software!]

Use cases for Gaja

Because of the flexible nature of Decentr’s data-based economics and the Holochain framework, the global carbon marketplace can be used to incentivize reducing emissions from all kinds of emissions sources (such as power plants, cement factories, internal combustion engine vehicles, and planes), and at all scales of participation, including individuals, businesses and other organizations of all kinds and sizes, local governments, cities, states, and nations. It can be used to incentivize increased investment in clean energy technologies; as well as [(or including when you consider mobile energy and stationary energy)] ground transport, aviation, and shipping. To add to that, it can be used to incentivize actually removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, for example through reafforestation, enhanced weathering, and direct air capture. All of these things will help to avert dangerous, human-induced runaway climate change. They will help to restore the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and the climate back to pre-industrial levels. And they will help to usher in a new age of prosperity, peace, and harmony across the whole world.

Note that regarding peace and harmony, contrast conflicts over finite resources, such as fossil fuels, with the abundantly available renewable energy resources from the Sun, wind, waves, water, geothermal, etc. And regarding prosperity, note how their are a minority of very rich people today who have built up their wealth through fossil fuels. Renewable energy, being distributed and easier to collect and use, is able to create distributed wealth and value through distributed electricity generation, and thus empower people in a distributed way.

Why data-based Deconomics helps

The data from emissions, as well as data from clean alternatives to emissions producing activities, and data from emissions removing activities — all of this data can affect the payable data value (PDV) — a personal exchange rate for individuals and other entities. The more activities that produce a positive impact, the more the shared data (via Decentr) from these activities can increase PDV and reduce the cost of economic activities from those participating entities. For example, for the emissions intensity of technologies, in units of energy (measured in MWh or kWh) per kilogram or tonne of carbon-dioxide equivalent [(CO2-e)] greenhouse gases, this emissions intensity can inversely affect Payable Data Value. As another example, a clean energy generator or emissions remover — who have an operating emissions intensity of 0, or a negative one, respectively — can see an increase in their Payable Data Value, as they contribute more positively to society, with less negative impacts or “externalities”. This reduces the cost of transacting. The advantage of Decentr is that it is actually possible to internalize all impacts from an entity or activity, through an evolving process of community consensus.

Conversely, the more entities or activities that cause negative impacts, such as emitting greenhouse gas emitting activities and increasing these emissions over time, then the more this can decrease their Payable Data Value and increase the cost of transactions. Payable Data Value fluctuates according to a process of community consensus. By incentivizing positive value creation and disincentivizing detrimental activities, Decentr apps like Gaja can enable long-term, all-round progress for society.

I plan to build Gaja alongside Decentr as it itself is developed, along with Holochain.

[Why is Decentr economics uniquely suited to a global emissions trading marketplace?]

[Decentr’s heterodox economic model is fully decentralized, unlike all other known economic models, which all involve some level of issuance as fiat currencies, or have some kind of dependence on fiat currencies in order to interact with the economy, beyond the constrained application of a particular currency. By using a Payable Data Value as a personal exchange rate that is based on data, as well as the Dec currency, which participants are incentivized to hold in order to increase their PDV, this enables the use of data directly to reduce costs. The community consensus mechanism, known as proof of engagement, is able to ensure that data is uniquely valuable. Decentr and Holochain is also able to ensure the security of data. Additionally, because Decentr enables anonymity, it can be used for private and proprietary purposes. All of these characteristic make Dec uniquely suitable as a global currency.]

[Because proof of engagement consensus is never final, but instead assigns a fluctuating value to data, according to consensus and available information, this enables more accurately valuing particular data, transactions, goods, services, activities and other things over time. Because Decentr makes data intrinsically valuable, there is also a tendency for the payable data value of participants to increase over time — particularly the more positively they contribute to society, as determined through community consensus.]

Returns on investment: increase in Payable Data Value

In order for the development of this idea to be sustainably funded, I am seeking to do an initial funding round, and it may be more ideal to raise fund entirely through public funding, if possible.

[What do I get from my investment?]

[Please note that once the app goes live, it is intended that investors will be able to pay less for goods and services through the app and other Decentr apps. Because it will use Decentr economics, it is intended that investors will receive an increase in their Payable Data Value (PDV) — a personal exchange rate — and their Dec digital currency, in proportion to the amount that they give and the higher risk that is applicable for any early-stage investment. Like any participant, they will then be able to reduce the cost of transactions through this higher PDV, or alternatively they can cash out on their available amount of Dec currency for other currencies, such as their native fiat currency. However, participants will be incentivized to hold Dec to increase their PDV, to reduce costs of transactions for Decentr applications, such as online shopping, EFTPOS payments, and electricity trading, without even needing to deal with money. [1a]]

Once the app goes live, investors will receive an increase in their Payable Data Value, in proportion to the amount that they give and the higher risk that is applicable for any early-stage investment. If you can afford to invest, your generous support is much appreciated! At my discretion, and depending on total fundraising levels, a nominal 10% (or more or less) of funds raised may be used in partnership with Decentr to jointly develop the platform, alongside the Gaja dapp.

[Startups at an idea stage, like Gaja, may choose to do a pre-seed funding round, to fund the development of a prototype or minimum viable product (MVP). A suitable funding goal to develop an MVP may be in the range of 10–100k AUD. A suggested approach for this project could be to raise 10k AUD, and work on developing an MVP while updating on progress. If further funding may be needed to develop an MVP, then such funds can be raised in another funding round. After doing an MVP, the next step for a startup is often to do a seed-funding round to develop a beta or production release.]

[However, I don’t even need $10k to get started. I just need an income of $1100 per fortnight, so that I can meet Centrelink’s job seeker requirements. I started a sales consultant job last Monday 11 May, for 5 hours a week, and that will provide an income of about $220 per fortnight, plus commissions. So all I need, bare minimum, is $880 per fortnight. If I can receive this much then I can focus ~95% of my available time (other than the sales consultant job) on research and development, and ~5% on providing updates/marketing.]

[I tried to change the fundraising goal for the campaign from what I initially set to $140k AUD, to $10k, but unfortunately I am unable to change the amount. It seems that to change the funding goal, I would have to remove the current campaign, and create a new one from scratch. Since the funding goal is flexibile, I will leave the campaign as is.

[Startups at an idea stage, like Gaja, may choose to do a pre-seed funding round, to fund the development of a prototype or minimum viable product (MVP). A suitable funding goal to develop an MVP may be in the range of 10–100k AUD. A suggested approach for this project could be to raise 10k AUD, and work on developing an MVP while updating on progress. If further funding may be needed to develop an MVP, then such funds can be raised in another funding round. After doing an MVP, the next step for a startup is often to do a seed-funding round to develop a beta or production release.]

[I tried to change the fundraising goal for the campaign from what I initially set to $140k AUD, to $10k, but unfortunately I am unable to change the amount. It seems that to change the funding goal, I would have to remove the current campaign, and create a new one from scratch. Since the funding goal is flexible, I will leave the campaign as is.

Explanation of the original funding goal

[The funding goal was] designed to pay myself a relatively modest salary — for a tech startup founder — of $70K AUD, for two years, which is a very rough guesstimate of how long it may take to develop an in-production app. The modest salary also reflects that I do not have years of software development experience — only less than a year. Development of a production version of the app could take one year, or it could take more than two. If it takes less than a year, the funds will be used for ongoing development and growth of the app and Decentr ecosystem.

Stretch goals

[For each additional $140k AUD or so raised above the original target fundraising goal of $140k AUD, an additional developer (or other employees) will be able to be hired, in order to fast-track development and be able to use the global emissions trading marketplace sooner, to more quickly help to keep within the global carbon budget of 1.5 degrees Celsius, and restore greenhouse gas levels and the climate back to safe, pre-industrial levels, all the while enabling much more economic and societal growth and sustainable development.]

[There is also the possibility to use Gaja more broadly than carbon trading, to also track and trade other pollutants and environmentally impacting activities. It could also be used for:

  • climate accounting, e.g. to share data about climate science.
  • financing clean energy projects, emissions removing projects, etc.]

Concluding remarks

[We hope you can see the potential value that Gaja can offer as the first global emissions trading marketplace, coupled with Decentr, Holo, and Holochain! Feel free to reach out to us via this page or via one of the social media channels listed on the Gaja website!]


What is Gaja going to be?

Hopefully I addressed this in the above article, haha. Nevertheless, to summarize, Gaja is planned to be a global emissions trading marketplace, built on and alongside Decentr, Holochain, and Holo. Decentr is a platform that is planned to be built on Holochain. Decentr has a unique economic model, that allows participants to use their data to reduce the cost of transactions and make more of a positive impact. Holochain is a distributed app framework that is incredibly scalable and secure. Holo is a crowd web-hosting service to bridge distributed apps to the current Internet and its users.

Why is Gaja important?

Gaja is important because it will help to accelerate a transition back to a safe climate (at pre-industrial levels), by incentivizing the reduction of emissions, the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere back to safe, pre-industrial levels, and the uptake of clean energy technologies such as renewable energy, electric vehicles, and clean aviation (e.g. via biofuels).

“So if I plant fields of hemp would I earn credits for carbon sequestration?” — question from Luck Light on Decentr Telegram (

If it did receive any increase in *payable data value* (as distinct from credits from a mutual credit perspective), it would need to be based on scientific experimentation and data to see how much hemp can store carbon in soil, and over what intervals. Agricultural carbon sequestration would not receive as much credits (hypothetically speaking, if any) compared to reafforestation, and because even old-growth forests can burn, reafforestation would probably not receive as much increase of a payable data value compared to other carbon removal projects — and they too would be valued according to proven data and experiments.

As for specifically hemp, community consensus may affect the value compared to other crops.


[1a] ‘All payments and trades are made by data value only reducing friction (hence time/costs) to near zero. The only time you need to deal with “money-currency” (even ours) is if you need to cash out your “data currency” into another denomination. Apart from that, money as entirely absent in our ecosystem. Simply not necessary!
‘The CRITICAL point here is the change in human perception we are aiming for: so next time you look at, say, a car you want to acquire, don’t think “how many units of money-currency do I need for that, hence how many hours of my time do I need to exchange for these units” think instead “how can I contribute to the ecosystem in a way that will benefit so many people my data value can grant me access to this car”.’ — Rich James, COO of Decentr






[2c] ICAP. (2020). Emissions Trading Worldwide: Status Report 2020. Berlin: International Carbon Action Partnership.




[6] “World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change” (PDF). World Bank. 2010. Retrieved 2010–04–06.


See also

  1. The Climate Registry
  2. Project Vulcan



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