Experts have been warning: the world as we know is in danger.
Some may put up a fight, but you can’t argue with facts and science: our climate crisis is reaching unparalleled and unrecoverable levels.
The use of plastics, carbon dioxide emissions, and rainforest exploitations are just some of a huge group of causes that are putting lives on earth at risk.
However, even though the scenery may be catastrophic, there are still ways to try to mitigate the damages done. And, believe it or not, the blockchain system, web3, and cryptocurrency can carry a good deal of help to this situation.
In this article, we’ll dive into:
- The current situation of crypto and blockchain energy questions
- How can the web3 help when it comes to environmental solutions
- Some decentralized initiatives that are breaking the mold and helping effectively to build a better and more sustainable world
Is crypto bad for the environment?
Starting off, let’s get the record straight about crypto damaging the environment.
As a matter of fact, it is. This can be said, however, of any activity that involves a large number of electronics working together concurrently.
Since the Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism is seen as the main “villain” in this debate, cryptocurrency mining has been at the center of the discussion.
In a nutshell, Proof of Work is the method by which miners (superpowerful computers) approve transactions and create new cryptocurrency blocks such as Bitcoin.
Those computers require a lot of power in order to keep mining 24/7, authorizing transactions all around the world. Actually, nowadays, we even have ‘mining farms’: huge sheds giving shelter to hundreds and thousands of computers mining cryptocurrency every day.
Critics of this system very correctly raise questions about this kind of energy-consuming system, since a lot of machines are working non-stop in order for those transactions to be completed.
However, here comes the twist:
A Proof of Work system is used in Bitcoin, the most famous cryptocurrency on the planet. As decentralization becomes more appealing to everyone, many other cryptocurrencies use Proof of Stake (PoS) and other modern mechanisms.
As a consensus mechanism, Proof of Stake doesn’t focus on quantity, but rather on quality.
While PoW requires a lot of computers working at the same time, PoS relies on miners selected by their level of investment in the project itself. This decreases the number of machines needed and, consequently, the energy consumption.
However, you can say that this does not solve the problem. It doesn’t.
Either way, you have to consider that this changes the scene. New data from a study made by Cambridge University stated that a lot has changed, especially with China shutting doors to crypto mining.
As a result, massive migration occurred and the situation changed. The mining industry is now looking for the cheapest sources of energy, including many renewable options. This makes sense because nobody wants to pay an expensive bill, right?
So even the miners are looking for better places and better ways to mine crypto. A recent report from the Bitcoin Mining Council shows that there’s been a growth of approximately 58.6% of the global mining industry’s sustainable electricity mix.
This means that members of the BMC and participants in the survey are currently utilizing electricity with a 66.1% power mix, making it one of the most sustainable industries globally.
It’s truly amazing to see this transformation from villain to collaborator.
In addition to all of that, Cambridge’s study also adds:
“What ultimately matters for the environment is not the level of electricity consumption per se, but the carbon intensity of the energy sources used to generate that electricity. For instance, one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated by a coal-fired power station has a substantially worse environmental footprint than one kWh of electricity produced by a wind farm. As a result, rising (or falling) power demand does not automatically lead to a proportional increase (or decrease) in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions”.
And talking about carbon dioxide and other gas emissions. What if crypto and blockchain did not only not hurt the environment, but also helped to achieve better solutions to its challenges?
How can crypto and blockchain help the environment?
Decentralization comes with a fundamental characteristic: it is not centered on one person or company – their records are shared through a distributed ledger, aka Blockchain.
This way of sharing data, assets, and even governance is a complete match for whoever wishes to make a difference without having to resort to somebody else’s approval.
Sometimes, in order to make a great deal of change, we need to take action.
In an article published on Forbes, Dustin Plantholt, editor for Crypto and Blockchain, shared:
“Cryptocurrency’s ability to expand the reach of capital markets through decentralized and permissionless delivery of financial goods and services is astounding. Delivering on the promise will require good governance. From the transparency of the peer-to-peer architecture of the blockchain to doing social good through projects such as GoodDollar, to protecting the environment by responding quickly and creatively to threats, cryptocurrency is a natural fit for an ESG portfolio as the options are limitless”.
This means that decentralization itself fits right in when it comes to transparent and shareable data. It also means that it can be a great deal of help in order to develop autonomous and community-built projects.
And if you consider that great NGOs work exactly like that – with transparency, community, and shared values – you might say that they have been incorporating the decentralized idea for a while now.
It was just missing the system to empower this mindset.
Web3 green initiatives
The environmental crisis is not going unperceived by the web3 community.
Blockchains, tokens, and other decentralized resources allowed real-life game-changers to implement great ideas. And in the midst of all that transformation, the main resource has been carbon offset.
Carbon Offset is simply the act of selling compensations for one’s use of carbon dioxide, which can be called Carbon footprints.
Let’s take company A, for instance. It is a company that uses a lot of carbon in order to produce its material through its machines.
With carbon offset, the CEO of company A could buy carbon credits and, consequently, help the environment. This happens because the money which buys the carbon credits is directly connected to sustainable and green initiatives with various fields of action.
So the idea here is to compensate for the usage of carbon and possibly make it even or negative – contributing more than consuming.
The carbon offset idea gained new life with blockchain and tokenization possibilities, once carbon credits are now sold as tokens and multiple green initiatives have been born in the web3 world.
We’ll list just some of them – if you do good research, you’ll find many more.
One of the most famous initiatives, Klima DAO is a decentralized autonomous organization that calls itself the ‘black hole for carbon at the center of a new green economy.
Simply put, KlimaDAO is a decentralized and open market for carbon. The token KLIMA has the purpose of incentivizing investors, citizens, and organizations to participate in and govern this new economy.
The company empowers the access and demand for carbon offsets, making pro-climate projects more profitable, while this new economy starts to force companies to adapt more quickly to the realities of climate change.
According to KlimaDAO’s website:
“The DAO sells bonds and distributes rewards to KLIMA holders. Every bond we sell adds to an ever-growing green treasury, or improves liquidity for key environmental assets. A win-win for people and planet”.
KlimaDAO has already absorbed circa 17,715,539 tons of carbon, equivalent to 88,577 hectares of forest, more than 3 million cars annually, and more than 525 million liters of gasoline.
Described as the ‘Carbon On-Chain’ system, Toucan empowers systems that wish to create their own carbon offset tokens.
The company states that Toucan’s infrastructure brings programmable carbon to Web3, unlocking its potential for a regenerative economy.
With 188 climate projects tokenized via Toucan, $21.9 Million in total DEX liquidity and CO2 bridged, and more than $4 Billion in Carbon trading volume, Toucan has already a lot of expertise in the field.
Toucan fits right in for developers and supply partners who wish to make a difference in climate action.
3. Regen Network
How do you feel when you read ‘DeFi for Earth’?
Goosebumps-worthy for any web3 and environment enthusiast.
Regen Network acts as an infrastructure that originates digital carbon assets in the Interchain economy, unlocking web3 regenerative finance – or as they call it, ReFi.
Powered by their very own Regen Ledger, a public, proof of stake (PoS) blockchain developed with the Cosmos Software Development Kit (SDK), the Regen Network uses this blockchain for its main purpose of verification of claims, agreements & data related to the ecological state.
According to Regen Network, “the Regen Ledger enables multiple registries to communicate and transact with each other producing a public ecological accounting system”.
Carbon removal is Nori’s business.
The Nori project enables the possibility of owning, tracking, and showcasing verified carbon removal. Nori claims that what differentiates them from other initiatives is the carbon removal and not only the compensation.
Nori creates a bridge and guides this connection between stakeholders – usually farmers who set goals for their carbon removal – for them to create and sell what they call the Nori Carbon Removal Tonnes (NRTs).
Nori states that one NRT represents one tonne of removed CO2e stored for a minimum of ten years. This works in a step by step process summarized by Nori as:
“Suppliers provide Nori with their historical project data.
Third-party verifiers then legitimize that data by ensuring it’s reasonable, legally permissible, and does not appear in other registries.
Next, a third-party quantification tool creates carbon removal estimates that inform Nori’s NRT generation. Finally, buyers can purchase Nori Carbon Removal Tonnes (NRTs) from Suppliers.
Current projects listed and selling in the marketplace are from the US Croplands Methodology, but new methodologies will be roadmapped soon”.
Also one of the most famous projects, Moss.Earth calls itself a ‘Climate Tech’.
The company that works mostly in Brazil uses blockchain to trace and track their processes which involve the selling of forest conservation NFTs, companies’ partnerships for carbon compensation, and the token MCO2 created especially by Moss.
Another very cool resource available with Moss Earth is the personal calculator of carbon emissions.
You can use their website to calculate the CO2 emissions in your household and with that result choose to compensate the emission with the correspondent value or with another amount of contribution.
The carbon credits emitted by Moss.Earth goes to the preservation of native rainforests, reforestation, natural regeneration, and regenerative agriculture.
Through Moss.Earth, companies, and individuals have already compensated 2.4 million tonnes of carbon and $30 million for the Amazon reforestation.
The technology that is here to stay
As previously mentioned, these are just a few projects related to web3, blockchain technology, and cryptocurrency that are already working in order to build a better and more sustainable world.
These initiatives prove that new technologies can help various segments of society, bringing the walls of skepticism regarding the power of blockchain to the ground.
Despite the fact that projects can come and go, the legacy of technology endures.
And the coolest part of it all is that we can apply this to almost every aspect of our lives – we just need the right ideas in the hands of the right people to make it happen.