Chris Larsen (Ripple) donates $5m for a greener bitcoin
The co-founder and executive chairman of Ripple joined an environmental campaign by donating $5 million to make changes to Bitcoin’s code.
The campaign will comprise ads that will be aimed at large media platforms, such as The New York Times, Politico and The Wall Street Journal, in order to encourage miners, key industry players and software developers to step back from the Proof of Work (PoW) network.
Larsen, together with Greenpeace and other environmental organizations, is dedicated to shifting the model of Bitcoin into a more eco-friendly one. There has been a growing concern that mining Bitcoin requires huge amounts of the planet’s fossil fuels, with miners using coal waste and natural gas to obtain the most sought-after cryptocurrency.
Proof of Work entails a process where users of the network are faced with the task of solving a mathematical problem, the solution to which creates the next block and awards the user with Bitcoin. This requires high computational energy which consequently brought forth a number of mining farms that were assembled to specifically obtain Bitcoin. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption index, mining Bitcoin takes up to 135.98 terawatt-hours of electricity per year. In comparison, Turkey’s electricity consumption in 2020 equaled 264 terawatt-hours. Despite the environmental impacts of mining, Greenpeace has accepted Bitcoins throughout 2014 and 2021 before declaring a halt to Bitcoin donations. Yet green environmentalists do not hold the objective of eliminating mining, but rather making it less energy consumptive.
Prior to his $5 million donation to the cause of raising mining-related concerns, Chris Larsen has already contributed almost $90 million to the environmental movement. Larsen also noted that his active position in crypto environmentalism is his own decision and that he is not acting as the official representative of Ripple.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Larsen noted that with the Ethereum protocol moving to lower energy consumption solutions, Bitcoin remains the ‘outlier’. Larsen himself owns both Bitcoin and Ethereum and desires for both cryptocurrencies to succeed in the long run. The Ethereum blockchain is in the works to move to the “proof of stake” mechanism starting from July, which means that the rewards transaction fees will be provided to the chain’s biggest ETH staker instead of the largest energy consumer. Yet it’s important to note that Bitcoin’s code had never been altered to such magnitudes and its code updates had always been rare. It’s also unclear whether miners would be willing to shift their functioning work model and the security protocol of Bitcoin itself.