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Reducing carbon emissions in blockchain technologies

Reducing carbon emissions in blockchain technologies
block chain

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The environmental impact of blockchain technologies such as Bitcoin and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have come under intense scrutiny in recent years. Now, researchers from Qatar University have analyzed policy tools and interventions to reduce carbon emissions from the blockchain industry and published them in an article in Energy research and social sciences.

Qatar Team, Led by Jon Truby, Links Harm from Blockchain Activity to Paris Agreement Goals and Human Mortality; they report that emissions attributed to Bitcoin in 2021 will be “responsible for approximately 19,000 future deaths”.

The researchers use NFTs as the focus of their study. NFTs are digital assets, such as images, memes, and music, that are stored and traded on a blockchain, a type of distributed ledger. The volume and value of NFT transactions have exploded in recent years, reaching US$10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021,

This growth is accompanied by an associated increase due to energy-intensive “proof-of-work” (PoW) NFT blockchains; PoW is a method of adding new blocks of transactions to the blockchain. Social awareness of environmental costs has caused an abandonment of these PoW consensus protocols and they need to be phased out, the researchers say.

Policy interventions will be needed if the blockchain industry fails to respond to . The team observes that currently available tools may be poorly coordinated or underutilized and offer alternatives for a sustainable blockchain.

As blockchain technologies are a private enterprise with a these proposed measures are aimed at developers, miners and merchants, who should be more willing to work with to minimize their . They could, for example, include charging a premium for miners’ electricity consumption, encouraging more efficient equipment, the need to depend on and make carbon offsets and/or a carbon trading system mandatory for miners and trading parties.

The blockchain industry has the potential to bring many societal and commercial benefits, “Switching to more sustainable alternatives in advance would avoid the need for taxes, standards and regulations,” Truby and his team conclude.

Energy-Intensive Bitcoin Transactions Are a Growing Environmental Threat

More information:
Jon Truby et al, Blockchain, climate damage and death: Policy interventions to reduce carbon emissions, mortality and the net zero implications of non-fungible tokens and Bitcoin, Energy research and social sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2022.102499

Quote: Reducing Carbon Emissions in Blockchain Technologies (2022, August 25) Retrieved August 25, 2022 from https://techxplore.com/news/2022-08-carbon-emissions-blockchain-technologies.html

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