AYR is the world’s first virtual digital platform that provides users with credits for carbon emissions saved. Created by the Center for Engineering and Product Development (CEiiA), the AYR app works to reward users with “eco-tokens” for every kilometer traveled using sustainable forms of transportation, such as public transportation, biking, or walking. The goal of AYR is to accelerate individuals, businesses, and local communities’ transition to carbon neutrality. AYR is currently operating in the Municipality of Matosinhos, in the Metropolitan Area of Porto, Portugal where CEiiA is based. The municipality hopes to be part of the European Union’s Horizon Europe Program’s mission to create 100 carbon-neutral cities by 2030, and Matoshino is using AYR to help achieve this goal.
The app quantifies carbon emissions in real-time and utilizes blockchain technology to reward users in “tokens [that] circulate in the city ecosystem as a ‘local sustainability coin’”. Users of AYR receive crypto-tokens in their digital wallet that can be exchanged for green goods, mobility, and municipal services in the local economy. The crypto-tokens can also be used to offset carbon emissions in a local voluntary carbon market. One example of AYR’s success is in “six months, a group of bike and scooter sharing services in the city of Matosinhos, Portugal, helped avoid 18.1t CO2 and generated 181,000 digital credits that users could spend on other city services.” AYR extends beyond individual users to local businesses, which can receive crypto-tokens and other financial benefits that can be used to fund green projects. The data collected with AYR is also used in the local decision and policy-making process.
Many carbon mitigation programs charge a tax or fee for carbon emissions emitted, but AYR instead rewards and pays users for carbon emissions avoided. AYR was designed to help remove cars from the road and take back public spaces to transform and enhance neighborhoods to be more environmentally friendly. CEiiA is also currently testing the platform in Itajaí, Brazil, and hopes to expand to ten more cities in Northern Portugal, Brazil, Europe, and Latin America in the next two years. AYR received the New European Beaches (NEB) Prize for Products and Lifestyles in September 2021 and the platform is backed by Google Impact Challenge on Climate.
Paulo Humanes is the Director of Mobility, Automotive, and Cities at CEiiA where he works as an engineer to innovate the mobility sector. Humanes received a Master’s in Transport Engineering at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and now works as a visiting professor there. Humanes also received the title of fellow from the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation and served as the chairman of the institute in 2009. In his role at CEiiA, Humanes works with institutional partners such as the World Resource Institute, World Bank, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, to build zero-emission mobility solutions. Humanes also works with local cities and government partnerships, through projects such as AYR, to build capacity for new transportation and mobility climate solutions.
Paulo: How do we create an ecosystem for sustainable mobility, and how do we make the change on people’s behavior? Because you can’t do it overnight.
Ethan: I’m Ethan Elkind, and this is Climate Break. Would you use transit or walk or bike more if you were paid in cryptocurrency to do so? That’s what Paulo Humanes is trying in Portugal. He is the director for CEiiA, a center for engineering that supports innovation in the automobile and transportation industries. They’ve developed an app that rewards users for choosing lower emission transit options with cryptocurrency that can be traded in a local carbon market.
Paulo: You have the ability to, for instance, use, bike, e-bike or walk or. Do some sustainable, uh, ways of moving around and you can trade that into an AYR. That stands for, are you ready? The idea is that you can change it for services so you can pay for your coffee or you can pay for your library.
Paulo: In Brazil already, in a city called Itajaí, there’s Itajaí Go, allowing people to show and register their trips – either walking or cycling in this particular case. We have a point based system where with the local boss company, you can, uh, trade some of the, in this case, add dots into, for instance, uh, free public transport journeys.
Paulo: But we realized that, without a significant amount of mass, it becomes very difficult. That’s the reason why in Portugal, we are partnering up with nine cities, exactly to try to get that idea of scale and create a voluntary carbon market.
Ethan: To learn more about AYR and other concepts CEiiA has developed, visit climatebreak.org.