The transition from the Ethereum blockchain from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake has reduced its power consumption by more than 99% – and many climate activists have asked Bitcoin to follow suit.
In an announcement released Thursday after the Merger, the US-based Environmental Working Group, or EWG, announced the launch of a million dollar campaign aimed at encouraging Bitcoin (BTC) to pass to lock instead of using an “outdated protocol” like POW. The announcement came as the environmental action group Greenpeace sent a direct petition to Fidelity Investments to facilitate the transition to PoS.
“Other cryptocurrency protocols have been operating on efficient consensus mechanisms for years,” said Michael Brune, campaign manager for EWG. “Bitcoin is now the outlier, refusing to accept its climate responsibility.”
Climate groups to bitcoin: Cut the pollution, and the BS https://t.co/qExsfJfDLd
—EWG (@ewg) September 15, 2022
Bitcoin Climate Groups: Reduce Pollution, and BS https://t.co/qExsfJfDLd — EWG (@ewg) September 15, 2022
Speaking to Cointelegraph, EWG Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Scott Faber suggested that the Merge event was overall “good for the climate” by reducing the energy needs of the Ethereum blockchain. He cited a September report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy which concluded that cryptocurrencies – specifically noting PoW staking – significantly contribute to energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, using more energy in the United States than that of home computers.
“The Merge proves that code can be changed,” said Faber. “The Merger proves that digital assets that rely on proof-of-work can transition to proof-of-stake and use much less electricity. […] We hope the Bitcoin community will follow Ethereum’s lead.”
Faber also said he would support any effort by the White House to set energy standards for cryptocurrency miners, saying regulators should not “sit idly and hope for the best,” but must act “quickly.” » in light of the climate crisis:
“We are skeptical. We support cryptocurrencies. We are not against digital assets, but we are concerned about the increased electricity consumption of assets that rely on proof of work, and the climate pollution that results from more and more important electricity consumption. »
Some industry leaders opposed the move from the Bitcoin blockchain to PoS, citing reasons such as security, the impact on network decentralization, and how US regulators would treat coins. In a blog post published on Wednesday, Michael Saylor, co-founder of MicroStrategy, claimed that PoW was the “only proven technique to create a digital product” like bitcoin and suggested that the cryptocurrency’s total global energy use was a rounding error. ” that was “neither the problem nor the solution” to solving the climate crisis.
“Regulators and legal experts have repeatedly noted that Proof of Stake networks are likely to be securities, not commodities, and we can expect them to be treated as such over time”, said Saylor. “PoS cryptocurrency securities may be suitable for some applications, but they are not suitable to serve as a global, open and fair currency or a global open settlement network. Therefore, it makes no sense to compare Proof of Stake networks with Bitcoin. »
The CEO of bitcoin mining platform Sazmining, William Szamosszegi, told Cointelegraph in May:
The fundamental mistake critics of bitcoin’s power consumption make is that they judge bitcoin by its “ingredients” rather than its value proposition. […] We should judge a new invention by how well it solves a societal problem. PoW enables sound currency and decentralized currency backed by real world energy. PoS cannot achieve this”.
Also read: Environmental groups call on the US government to take action against cryptocurrency miners
Many US lawmakers have targeted large bitcoin miners, and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded in August that mining companies provide information, including on the energy consumption of their facilities, the energy sources and the percentage coming from renewable energy. At the state level, New York plans to impose a two-year moratorium on PoW mining, legislation that would also prohibit license renewals for existing companies unless they are running on 100% renewable energy.