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Bitcoin under pressure to adopt more sustainable practices

Bitcoin under pressure to adopt more sustainable practices

Several environmental advocacy groups have launched a campaign to pressure bitcoin miners to change their coding and reduce energy consumption. Led by Environmental Working Group and Greenpeace USA, the campaign claims the massive amount of energy miners use could decrease by 99% with a coding style change. 

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According to some reports, bitcoin mining currently uses as much energy as all of Sweden. With cryptocurrency adoption booming, the demand for mining energy reopened previously closed U.S. fossil plants. In response, a campaign dubbed Change the Code Not the Climate wants to change crypto mining’s resource-intensive coding approach.

Related: Understanding NFTs and energy consumption

“Coal plants which were dormant or slated to be closed are now being revived and solely dedicated to bitcoin mining. Gas plants, which in many cases were increasingly economically uncompetitive, are also now being dedicated to bitcoin mining. We are seeing this all across the country,” said Michael Brune, campaign director and former executive director of Sierra Club.

Miners call Bitcoin’s software code “proof of work.” It uses immense energy due to the amount of computer power needed to validate transactions. You can learn more about this process in some of Inhabitat’s previous articles.

In contrast, Ethereum (Bitcoin’s closest rival cryptocurrency) is shifting to a different system known as “proof of stake.” In this system, the miners pledge coins to verify transactions and are penalized for inaccuracies. Etherium officials say this approach could reduce energy use by 99% compared to the proof of work approach. Change the Code Not the Climate campaigners are encouraging Bitcoin to adopt a similar system.

Without change, Brune says “there’s no way we can reach our climate goals.” Since China’s 2021 cryptocurrency mining crackdown, the U.S. leads the world in cryptocurrency mining. “It’s particularly painful to see [Bitcoin encouraging fossil fuel use] in the electric sector because that is precisely the place where the US has made most of its progress in the last decade,” Brune added.

Via The Guardian

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