Can a New Project Solve Blockchain’s Sustainability Problem?

Energy hungry and about as unsustainable as aviation, sustainability could cripple the rise of some blockchains. Can a new project from EOSIO offer a solution?

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LONDON (Bywire News) - For all the success of blockchain technologies over the past few years, some still suffer from one big elephant in the room: sustainability. At a time when fighting climate change is top of the agenda, the leading blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum gobble up energy like there is no tomorrow – which if things continue that way there might not be.

EOSIO believes it offers a solution. This ‘third generation’ blockchain sets itself up as the sustainable alternative to Bitcoin and Ethereum. It claims to be 66,454 times more energy-efficient than Bitcoin and 17,236 times more energy-efficient than Ethereum.

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Working with Upland, the NFT metaverse which is linked to real addresses and Climate care, which creates a voluntary market for carbon, they are offsetting a year of carbon emissions for the EOS Public Blockchain.

Upland is a metaverse where anyone from around the world can buy and trade virtual properties in major cities such as Brooklyn, Oakland, Fresno, New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Each virtual property is based on real world boundaries and is represented as a non-fungible token (NFT) using the EOS blockchain. This ensures true ownership of the property in a more sustainable way. 

“Not all blockchains and NFTs are created equal,” said Dirk Lueth, Co-Founder of Upland. “At Upland, we pride ourselves on being a more sustainable option as we use the EOS blockchain which from its inception was made to scale sustainably and is more energy-efficient than Bitcoin or Ethereum.” 

EOS is using its partnership with Upland and Climate Care to turn itself into the ‘world’s first carbon neutral blockchain’. It does this by firstly calculating its carbon footprint, which it puts at 281 tonnes of carbon for the year – and supporting socially beneficial projects with sponsorship from Upland – which each carbon credits.

Such projects include wind energy projects in India, energy efficient stoves in developing countries and a major gas recovery project in Xinyang.

During their yearly celebration of the first property being minted – Genesis week – Upland users can contribute to their sustainability drive directly. In return for a donation, they can receive sustainability badges which can be displayed on their profiles. These proceeds will go towards Upland’s sustainability efforts.

The project demonstrates the growing pressure on blockchains to demonstrate their environmental credentials. It comes after Bitcoin’s rise suffered a serous blow when Tesla announced they would no longer accept payment in Bitcoin until the blockchain finds a more environmentally friendly way of working.

Their current approach is devastating. According to recent analysis from Cambridge University, Bitcoin uses more energy than the country of Argentina. Their study found that it consumes around 121.36 terabytes per year – a figure which is likely to grow as the currency gains in value and adoption.  

Although its value recently suffered after a crackdown on cryptocurrencies in China, this last year has seen its value – and that of other cryptocurrencies – skyrocket. Over the course of 2020, Bitcoin’s value grew by more than 220%.

Other cryptocurrencies have also surged – with each one having its own substantial impact on the environment. With the world embracing the blockchain, its success feels increasingly incompatible with the global fight against climate change. As Tesla’s decision shows, companies are beginning to take note, with sustainability impacting their current and future decisions on blockchain use.

Changing its image

The sector, therefore, has to up its game and there are signs of promising initiatives. Many have taken a similar approach to EOS by demonstrating its commitment to sustainability by supporting carbon offsetting initiatives.

The Crypto Climate Accord, meanwhile, represents an industry initiative to clean up the sector. It is currently supported by a number of organisations including Ripple and Argo Blockchain. However, neither of the big two have yet signed up.

Third generation blockchains, meanwhile, such as Cardano and EOS have adopted delegated proof of stake, rather than proof of work models, which are more energy efficient. As well as being faster and more efficient, these new protocols consume a fraction of the energy of old fashioned approaches.

Ethereum has already pivoted to join the revolution. Its 2.0 upgrade which will see it move from proof of work to delegated proof of stake, will it claims, cut its energy consumption by around 99%.

Other initiatives revolve around the use of clean energy such as Solar Coins which produce mining powered by solar energy. Various initiatives are also underway within bitcoin to increase the proportion of energy it consumes which is produced by renewables.

Both EOS and Cardano believe they represent a cleaner, greener future for the blockchain. However, cleaning up the sector may prove difficult. Bitcoin may be the dirty old man of the crypto sector, but they also have a deeply embedded and established position in the market.


(Writing by Tom Cropper, editing by Michael O’Sullivan, )


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