World Economic Forum (WEF) tweet from April 26 states that a “change in the way bitcoin is coded could almost eliminate its environmental impact.” An accompanying video claims that “miners could stake their own bitcoins to verify transactions” instead of using energetically demanding proof-of-work.
A simple “basic change in coding” could eliminate “most of the network’s energy demands at a stroke,” WEF’s video says.
Recently there has been a lot of discussions about the energy consumption by miners and their impact on the global environment. According to The University of Cambridge’s Bitcoin electricity consumption index, Bitcoin’s share in total electricity consumption is around 0.7% (it’s more than Denmark!).
Politicians, activists and regulators have been blaming cryptocurrencies regularly (New York State Senate bill is a good example as well as some other senators’ statements). Greenpeace even started a campaign to get Bitcoin’s code changed so it will be friendlier to the environment. Its portal cleanupbitcoin.com states:
“You’ve heard Bitcoin fuels the climate crisis, but did you know a software code change could clean it up.”
The WEF video got a lot of criticism from cryptocurrency supporters after it was published. For example CEO of Blockstream, Adam Back said replying to the WEF tweet:
Microstrategy’s CEO Michael Saylor had also responded to the WEF’s tweet and video about Bitcoin changing to PoS:
“If you remove the energy from anything useful you can almost eliminate its environmental impact,” Saylor said. “This is most common in fantasy novels and computer games. Real planes, trains, automobiles, homes, food, medicine, machines, and money all benefit from energy. So do real people.”
Perhaps these comments made a point: WEF’s blog post concerning the ongoing debate about whether cryptocurrencies consume too much energy says that “crypto uses energy to provide an alternative, borderless and decentralized store of value” and “what is missing from that debate is an appreciation of the societal merit of crypto.”
It is worth noting that even if proof-of-stake could save our environment, nothing is as easy as WEF’s video says: check out some news about Ethereum’s Merge. Seems that switching to PoS can take as much effort as PoW takes electricity.