Greenpeace USA campaigns to change Bitcoin PoW technology

By Raffaele Redi

Environmentalists launch campaign calling on network to adopt proof-of-stake protocol

Exterior of a building displaying the logo of Greenpeace                                 
According to Greenpeace, Bitcoin uses more energy than all of Sweden – Photo: Shutterstock

Greenpeace USA and the Environmental Working Group are co-ordinating a campaign against outdated proof-of-work technology (PoW) powering bitcoin mining facilities.

The Change the Code Not the Climate campaign is calling on the Bitcoin network to change the way bitcoin (BTC) is mined to tackle its huge carbon footprint and switch to a proof-of-stake (PoS) protocol.

The campaigners, citing the Bitcoin Mining Map from the University of Cambridge, said the Bitcoin blockchain “uses more energy than all of Sweden and it’s quickly surpassing more countries”.

Further adoption risks warming planet by 2°C

Moreover, a report in the journal Nature Climate Change found that if bitcoin becomes widely adopted, it could produce enough carbon dioxide emissions to warm the planet above 2°C. “Unless its price is decoupled from its energy use, Bitcoin will drive devastating climate impacts,” added the campaigners.

The PoS protocol – which uses a staking process to validate new coins – would reduce Bitcoin’s energy use by 99.9% according to the environmentalists, while proof-of-work mining requires instead, energy-intensive mining hardware.

Call to join green cause

The campaigners have appealed to crypto players like Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Abby Johnson as well as institutional investors, such as BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, PayPal and many others, to make the change happen.

“Bitcoin requires so much power that miners have started buying US coal plants. They’re using fracked gas and are striking deals with the oil industry in Texas to use flare gas to fuel their operations,” claim the campaigners.

“We know Bitcoin stakeholders are incentivised not to change. Changing Bitcoin would render a whole lot of expensive infrastructure worthless, meaning Bitcoin stakeholders will need to walk away from sunk costs or find other creative solutions. However, the crypto community is overwhelmingly motivated by a sense of progress, fairness, and good intentions,” they added.

The NFT sustainability manifesto

Meanwhile, Paolo Taticchi, an Italian professor from the UCL London School of Management who is an expert in corporate sustainability, has recently launched the NFT Sustainability Manifesto to raise awareness about the opportunities and environmental risks facing companies using non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

To promote the manifesto, an NFT featuring a caricature of Queen Elizabeth II wearing a T-shirt featuring an image of the Earth was minted on the Stratisphere platform. The not-for-sale NFT was produced through a collaboration between NFT designer Michele Fabbro and Italian artist Massimiliano Donnari aka Mamo.

As the creators explained, the Stratis blockchain is based on proof-of-authority (PoA), a model that balances decentralisation with energy efficiency.

Sustainable and decentralised

Chris Trew, founder and CEO of Stratis, said: “By leveraging our implementation of proof-of-authority on Stratis, a globally distributed group of nodes validate transactions without the need for energy-intensive ‘mining’, common to Bitcoin and Ethereum. We have achieved a balance of true decentralisation with sustainability in mind, which is critical to the widespread adoption of NFTs.

“We support UCL’s efforts to raise awareness of the sustainability issue related to NFTs and blockchain technology as a whole. In our view, it’s not an either-or situation — there are sustainable options for blockchains and NFT issuance while retaining levels of decentralization.”

Further reading

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