The latest effort to address Ethereum’s carbon footprint has gone live, this time with the help of an independent initiative called Climate Chain Coalition (CCC). The platform, known as EnvionTrack, is designed to track the emissions produced by the Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm. In addition to measuring these emissions, it also intends to provide a platform for users and developers to share information about their efforts to mitigate such pollution.
You may have heard that Ethereum, one of the most popular public blockchains, uses a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm. This means that miners are responsible for maintaining the network by solving mathematical puzzles on the blockchain.
However, PoW mining also takes up a lot of electricity. According to a recent report published by Digiconomist’s carbon footprint calculator, every transaction costs approximately 44-kilowatt hours (KWh). In total, all transactions conducted on Ethereum’s mainnet amount to 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per day — which is roughly equivalent to how much electricity is used in Switzerland.
Ethereum Climate Platform Concerned About Emission
In an attempt to address the network’s prior PoW emissions, Ethereum developers are planning a PoS upgrade in 2022. The upgrade will see Ethereum move away from the current Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm used by most blockchains and toward a new protocol that rewards nodes based on how long they have held onto their stake in the system.
This transition away from PoW is a common trend among blockchain networks, as miners have been found to consume large amounts of energy over time due to their need for expensive hardware and constant electricity consumption. As mentioned above, this has led some designers to build more sustainable networks that require less power consumption; however, it has also resulted in some contradictory approaches:
- Some protocols use proof-of-work algorithms but only reward miners/holders with transaction fees instead of monetary rewards (i.e., Bitcoin). This approach reduces overall emissions while still maintaining incentives for miners/holders across the network—however, these systems lack transparency regarding what happens when one miner controls 51%+ hash rate share—a scenario dubbed “51% attack.”
- Other protocols use proof-of-stake algorithms but only reward miners/holders with monetary rewards (i.e., Tezos). This approach reduces overall emissions while maintaining incentives for miners/holders across the network—however these systems lack transparency regarding what happens when one miner controls 51%+ hash rate share—a scenario dubbed “51% attack.”