Bitcoin mining has come under criticism because it continues to use a lot of energy from unsustainable sources. Greenpeace is calling for a rethink and a change in the Bitcoin code to make BTC more climate friendly.
Greenpeace is now getting involved in the discussion about the influence of Bitcoin (BTC) on climate change. The world-renowned environmental organization has to influence the basis of Bitcoin under the title “Change the code, not the climate.” Among the supporters is Chris Larsen, who as co-founder of Ripple (XRP) is deeply rooted in the crypto industry.
The campaign’s web presence explains that Bitcoin currently consumes more energy than Sweden. Such comparisons have their pitfalls, in part because they fail to account for Bitcoin’s ever-increasing share of energy from sustainable sources such as solar and water. Greenpeace goes on to cite a study that Bitcoin could be responsible for 2 degrees of global warming if adopted en masse. However, this study is from 2018 and does not take into account how the energy mix for Bitcoin mining has already changed.
However, even Bitcoin maximalists can simply ignore the question of energy efficiency in BTC. The influence of, for example, Tesla’s entry and exit in the acceptance of Bitcoin as a payment method has shown how the energy issue in BTC can have an influence also on the acceptance and thus the price curve. That’s why Greenpeace is calling for direct outreach to major companies like Fidelity and well-known figures like Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey. With their influence, the Bitcoin community could be persuaded to change the protocol at BTC, according to the campaign goal.
Ethereum will soon be more climate-friendly – should Bitcoin follow?
Ethereum (ETH) is cited as a laudable example. There, the change in protocol from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS), which is due this year, is expected to reduce energy requirements by more than 99 percent in Ethereum 2.0. Bitcoin should also take this step away from proof-of-work, which is already energy-hungry in concept, the claim goes. A manageable group of about 50 Bitcoin miners, developers and crypto exchanges would have the power to enforce the change in code, Greenpeace believes.
At least one person, Chris Larsen, whose word carries some weight in the crypto scene, is joining in this chorus. In interviews and via his Twitter account, he calls for swift action. Larsen, who became a multi-billionaire with Ripple and other start-ups, believes that Bitcoin miners are always looking for the “cheapest” energy and that switching to sustainable energy for BTC will always provoke competition from countries like Russia, which use oil and gas for Bitcoin mining. Five million US dollars is what Larsen claims to have donated to the campaign – and of course he still faces suspicion of having ulterior motives. After all, XRP and Ripple are increasingly emphasizing the climate friendliness of their network – and critical discussions about crypto and climate could ultimately do XRP and Ripple good in the public eye. However, Larsen writes that he is expressing himself in the Greenpeace campaign as a private citizen and not in consultation with Ripple.
Bottom line: code change in Bitcoin seems unlikely to gain majority support
Greenpeace is known for noble goals and yet sometimes overshoots the mark in its campaigns. Advantages of Bitcoin like financial inclusion of people from developing countries like El Salvador are not mentioned in the campaign, nor is the already started and noticeable shift in Bitcoin mining away from fossil energy sources.
But even apart from this argumentation: Security and stability of the Bitcoin network are guaranteed by high decentralization and proven error-free code. There is no majority in sight in the Bitcoin community and among investors to enforce far-reaching changes to the proven concept. The demanded fundamental change in Bitcoin’s code would in all likelihood lead to an inharmonious hard fork and thus a new Bitcoin alongside BTC, which has changed the world since 2009.
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