Bitcoin mining has long been under scrutiny for its environmental impact, with Greenpeace leading the charge against its energy-intensive practices. However, recent developments and expert opinions point to a shift towards the crypto industry cleaning up its act.
Why is Greenpeace USA against Bitcoin mining?
In a new campaign berating the environmental impact of Bitcoin and its mining process, Greenpeace has once again stood up against Bitcoin. Since Bitcoin’s surge in popularity, Greenpeace hasn’t been shy about condemning Bitcoin mining-citing its high energy consumption and carbon footprint.
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— Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) July 18, 2023
The organisation claims that friendly financial services companies—including BlackRock, Fidelity, and JPMorgan are holding Bitcoin accountable. Instead, they are ‘accelerating Bitcoin’s climate destruction.” To up its game, the organisation has used the “Skull of Satoshi” as part of its marketing campaign to berate Bitcoin.
“All of these companies have connections to Bitcoin and have failed to take meaningful action to solve the problem despite making climate and sustainability pledges,” Greenpeace USA wrote.
Where is the pushback coming from?
Daniel Batten, a prominent figure in the cryptocurrency space, has called out Greenpeace USA’s actions whilst standing behind Bitcoin.
“An NGO uses big-budget marketing techniques funded by a corporate donor to spread propaganda against a grassroots movement called Bitcoin that is net positive to the environment,” said Daniel Batten
In his rebuttal to Greenpeace USA, Batten claims that the data regarding the full impact of Bitcoin mining on the environment is not clear. Earlier this year, Batten charted Bitcoin mining energy emissions. He reported that bitcoin mining emissions intensity had dropped to its lowest-ever level.
The Bitcoin Mining Council has also asserted that BTC mining consumes only a small fraction of the energy used by other industries.
Furthermore, recent reports indicate that Bitcoin mining can significantly reduce the percentage of flared gas emitted by oil producers. Some researchers are also standing behind the idea of this method outperforming traditional wind and solar energy alternatives.
Proof-of-Stake (PoS) as a green alternative
Despite the controversies that continue to surround Bitcoin mining, the fact remains that Bitcoin still has a long way to go before it meets sustainability targets. With Ethereum’s transition to proof of stake, many in the crypto community have begun to question whether Bitcoin could make a similar move.
This prompts the question: What exactly is Proof of Stake?
Proof of Stake (PoS) is an alternative algorithm already adopted by cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Cardano. It’s gaining popularity for its ability to reduce energy consumption.
Proof-of-Work (PoW) is a mechanism Bitcoin uses to regulate the creation of blocks and the state of the blockchain.
Proof-of-Stake (PoS) is an alternative consensus mechanism which delegates control of the network to owners of the token.
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With PoS, miners create blocks and validate transactions based on their staked coins. Additionally, validators are chosen based on their cryptocurrency holdings, eliminating complex equation-solving competition.
In the long run, PoS could become a more environmentally friendly option that the current proof of work system.
But, for this approach to work, Bitcoin would need to make various changes to its infrastructure. Given the investment already poured into the current system, many might not be keen on embracing these changes. Another concern is that PoS relies on validators holding large amounts of cryptocurrency, which could lead to centralisation and compromise the network’s security.
Certifying sustainable Bitcoin mining
Amidst Greenpeace’s campaign against Bitcoin, there have been encouraging developments in the industry’s pursuit of sustainability. Energy Web, an independent non-profit organisation committed to clean energy solutions, has taken a step forward by introducing a standardised energy measurement system for sustainable Bitcoin mining. This move aims to address the environmental concerns surrounding Bitcoin mining practices.
“Bitcoin’s electricity consumption and environmental impact have drawn criticism,” said Amy Westervelt, head of the GP4BTC initiative at Energy Web, via a press release.
The non-profit organisation can now grant certifications to Bitcoin miners based on their use of clean energy and their impact on grid stability.
The scoring system evaluates miners’ adoption of renewable electricity and their ability to adjust to demand fluctuations, both of which are issues of concern within the Bitcoin community.
For miners, the GP4BTC solution can empower them to retain full ownership and control of their data. For Bitcoin users and institutions, it offers a convenient platform to discover and validate miners’ sustainability credentials.
It is without a doubt that consumers’ concerns have set the stage for GP4BTC’s initiative.
A ray of hope?
At the end of the day, Greenpeace’s concerns cannot be easily ignored. However, this recent development points towards a potentially positive future.
Although there is no reason for immediate celebration, the industry appears to be seeking long-term solutions that customers can stand behind. Supporters of Bitcoin may criticise Greenpeace for now, but these efforts have spurred the cryptocurrency community to address environmental risks tied to crypto mining.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Bitcoin transfer between two phones. Featured Photo Credit: Unsplash.