The unfortunate reality of cryptocurrencies is that they can have a very negative impact on the environment – especially when mined with traditional methods. It is estimated that the global electricity generation necessary for maintaining current cryptocurrencies releases more than 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly, more than some countries do.
Naturally, this is not sustainable and needs to be addressed to make the planet a better place for generations to come.
As cryptocurrencies are deeply entrenched in the business world, their complete ban is unlikely. Instead, measures must be taken to reduce their environmental impact. Below, we’ll explore some of the best ways to do this.
Read on and learn what can be done to make cryptocurrencies more eco-friendly!
1. Switch to Proof-of-Stake System
One of the bigger issues with many cryptocurrencies is the way they are mined – through a process called proof-of-work. Generating coins for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin requires mining machines to solve complex mathematical problems requiring large amounts of computing power.
This process is very energy-intensive but makes it possible to maintain the decentralized blockchain (here, you can read more about blockchain technology).
The good news is that there is an alternative to the proof-of-work system. It’s called proof-of-stake (PoS), allowing miners to deposit coins into a pool to maintain their blockchain. This makes it possible to create coins without requiring intense computing power, thus drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
2. Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy
A good way to make cryptocurrencies more eco-friendly is incentivizing miners to switch to renewable energy sources.
In other words, governments should provide tax incentives or subsidies to miners who use renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind farms to power their mining rigs. This will ensure that miners are rewarded for doing their part in reducing the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies.
When it comes to incentivizing renewable energy use, governments have a lot of options. For example, they could offer tax credits, grants, or discounts on electricity bills for miners who use renewable energy sources. They could also provide grants to miners willing to invest in renewable energy infrastructure.
3. Regulation of Mining Devices
Another way to make cryptocurrencies more eco-friendly is to regulate the devices that are used for mining. Many crypto enthusiasts have built their mining rigs, often using extremely powerful GPUs that consume obscene amounts of energy. If the government were to regulate the devices that are used for mining, they could set energy efficiency standards that would need to be met.
At the same time, it might be necessary to limit the number of rigs per individual. This would reduce the likelihood of people setting up entire warehouses full of mining rigs, eliminating any environmental benefits that might be gained from using more energy-efficient devices.
4. Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets are a way to reduce the net carbon dioxide emissions of a certain activity. For example, if you fly from New York to Los Angeles, you can purchase a carbon offset that would go towards planting trees or investing in renewable energy projects. The same approach could make cryptocurrency mining less harmful to the environment.
Miners could be required to purchase carbon offsets for the emissions that their mining rigs produce. This would create a financial incentive for miners to reduce their emissions, as they would be required to pay for the damage they are causing.
The solutions mentioned above work well in combination with carbon offsets – reasonable crypto enthusiasts unwilling to continuously lose a part of their income may be more willing to make a one-time investment and switch to renewable energy sources or invest in energy-efficient mining rigs.
5. Taxation of Proof-of-Work Cryptocurrencies
As mentioned above, not all cryptocurrencies rely on the environmentally-friendly proof-of-stake system. Many still use the older and more harmful proof-of-work system, regardless of the negative environmental impacts. One way to make these cryptocurrencies more eco-friendly is to tax them at a higher rate than their proof-of-stake counterparts.
This would create a financial incentive for miners to switch to proof-of-stake currencies, as they could keep more of their profits. It would also raise revenue for the governments, which could be used to offset the environmental damage that these proof-of-work cryptocurrencies cause.
The environmental impact of cryptocurrencies is a serious issue that needs to be addressed with the same urgency as other climate change drivers.
The solutions mentioned above are some of the best ways to reduce the negative environmental impact of cryptocurrencies without having to ban them entirely. Implementing at least some of these would be a big step toward a more sustainable future.
Of course, the advances in power generation technology (especially the proliferation of nuclear and fusion) might make some of the solutions above obsolete. After all, if we can get all the energy from green sources that don’t produce greenhouse gas emissions, then the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies would be negligible.
Unfortunately, we are not quite there yet, so limiting the mining itself is our best bet for now. The future of our planet and species is at stake, so we need to act now – before it’s too late.