Nearly 40 companies and organizations across the world from the crypto, finance, technology, NGO and energy sectors are now part of the Crypto Climate Accord (CCA), a voluntary agreement to work toward decarbonizing the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.
The accord, launched earlier this month, is a private sector-led initiative that aims to enable all blockchains to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025. Inspired by the Paris Climate Agreement, the crypto accord also seeks to develop an open-source accounting standard for measuring emissions from the cryptocurrency industry, and achieve net-zero emissions for the entire crypto industry by 2040.
“We are thrilled to support this timely initiative and help the Crypto Climate Accord enact thoughtful, inclusive governance so we can channel the diverse perspectives about crypto into robust solutions,” said Sheila Warren, member of the executive committee of the World Economic Forum, in a news release. “Together with the Forum, the CCA will be a critical part of the broader conversation about creating an environmentally and socially responsible crypto ecosystem.”
Led by Energy Web, Rocky Mountain Institute and the Alliance for Innovative Regulation, organizations supporting the accord include key crypto industry players including blockchain technology company ConsenSys, blockchain-powered payment platform Ripple Labs and Bitcoin mining company Compass as well as traditional energy companies like Singapore Power Group and Thailand’s PTT Group.
“We don’t want this to just be some political statement. We really want the accord to be a rallying cry for industry, but also a toolbox,” said Jesse Morris, chief commercial officer of the Energy Web Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, in an interview with Forkast.News.
“So basically, if any crypto industry participant, whether they are in Asia, whether they’re in Europe or North America, we want them to be able to come to the accord to learn how to decarbonize blockchains,” said Morris, whose organization is working toward the global transition to low-carbon electricity systems through open-source, decentralized technologies. “That’s what we want it to be all about.”
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How to ‘decarbonize’ crypto
The accord plans to directly support institutional crypto buyers in their efforts to decarbonize current crypto holdings and engage crypto producers to help them access renewables by the end of the year. Blockchain technology can also enable miners to know, verify and track the green energy they use.
Renewable energy companies that provide energy solutions are hungry for customers, according to the accord’s leaders.
“We can make the entire cryptocurrency industry a new customer for these energy companies,” Morris said. “The point with the accord is not to pick winners on the consensus mechanism. It’s really just recognizing that all blockchains use electricity and produce emissions.”
Monica Long, Ripple’s general manager of RippleX told Forkast.News: “Crypto is going to be the future of money, and the good news is it’s still early days. So while we’re seeing the energy issue becoming larger and larger as crypto is becoming more popular, more mainstream, it increases timeliness and urgency for the industry to come together and solve the problem now so that we’re not reverse engineering solutions in the future like the auto industry or other industries like that.”
Last year, the XRP Ledger Foundation, Ripple and Energy Web partnered to decarbonize the XRP Ledger — the first major global blockchain to do so, according to Ripple.
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Bitcoin mining and renewable energy
Bitcoin has attracted a lot of attention in recent months from institutional and retail investors — but also from critics who argue that its energy intensive proof-of-work consensus algorithm and mining activities harm the environment through its considerable carbon emissions. China, which according to estimates accounts for 65% of Bitcoin mining around the world, still relies largely on coal.
But Bitcoin mining is also turning to renewable energy, such as solar and wind, and energy management companies of today can become the bitcoin miners of tomorrow, according to a white paper released this week by Square, a digital payments company that has also invested in Bitcoin.
Nic Carter, partner at Castle Island Ventures and co-founder of Coinmetrics.io, wrote in a recent blog post: “I will never deny that Bitcoin uses energy, nor will I deny that it has climate externalities. But the way to solve that is by guiding mining toward a greener future.”
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As cryptocurrencies become increasingly popular and use of blockchain technology intensifies, more organizations are taking steps to decarbonize their operations. Using renewable energy to mine Bitcoin is on the rise outside of China, such as hydroelectric power in Canada and the U.S. and geothermal energy in Norway.
Governments too, are taking action. China recently banned crypto mining in Inner Mongolia, which previously had been one of the epicenters for crypto mining because of its abundance of coal-powered electricity. China has also set for itself the ambitious goal to reach peak carbon emission by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
“The big topic in China in particular is this question about how much of the electricity going into Bitcoin mining in China is green,” said Energy Web’s Morris, noting the opportunities to verify the amount of green energy — or not — that’s going into cryptocurrency production.
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“Immense amounts of electricity from wind farms is dumped into the ground because it can’t be used at certain times of day,” Morris said. “Why can’t we use that electricity for things like cryptocurrency mining or production?”
“We are going to keep pushing in China to bring more market participants into the accord,” Morris added.
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