Ripple pushes for carbon net-zero by 2030, urges all crypto players to be ‘accountable’

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

Ripple has announced a commitment to be carbon net-zero by 2030, claiming to be the first blockchain company to do so – and has put together partnerships to help achieve it.

The company is partnering with conservation organisations Rocky Mountain Institute and REBA, as well as the Energy Web Foundation, to help ‘ensure fintech is sustainable’ – a goal Ripple says is ‘critical.’

The collaboration with Energy Web Foundation has seen Ripple co-create EW Zero, an open source tool which will enable any blockchain to decarbonise through the purchase of renewable energy in local markets worldwide. As of right now, any blockchain developer can access and leverage the tool.

The environmental impact of blockchain technologies – particularly Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – continues to be a hot button issue. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger is on record as saying the electricity consumption of Bitcoin was ‘criminal’, while a report last July posited that Bitcoin’s energy consumption was ‘equal to that of Switzerland.’

Speaking to this publication in March, Michel Rauchs, a researcher focused on digital assets and distributed systems, said the situation was much more complicated. “The way that Bitcoin is being valued for different people right now is completely subjective,” he said. “For some people it’s an essential part of their life; for other people it’s some sort of gimmick, and definitely not worth the electricity it consumes.

“The only thing we can say today is that Bitcoin right now is at least not directly contributing to climate change, though the level of energy consumption is really high,” Rauchs added.

Looking at the words ‘right now’ in the above, a long-term plan is needed. Ripple is looking to achieve three primary goals by 2030:

  • Comprehensively measure and reduce its carbon footprint, and buy clean, renewable energy in markets where Ripple has offices and employees
  • Fund innovative carbon removal technology, with the goal of removing all remaining emissions
  • Expand partnerships with innovative conservation organisations and academia

It is worth noting that this is a long road. With regard to cloud computing, a much more mature technology, Google only felt comfortable last month in making a commitment to run its business on carbon-free energy everywhere by 2030, albeit with some areas of its business already carbon neutral.

Yet Ripple is taking an aggressive stance, if the words of its chief executive are anything to go by.

“While the mainstream adoption of blockchain and crypto is encouraging, we must constantly evaluate how we innovate to ensure the future of global finance is sustainable,” said Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse. “As digital payments continue to evolve, we need to make long-term systemic shifts as an industry to ensure digital transformation doesn’t come at the cost of our planet.

“We are leading this change and urging all crypto players to hold themselves accountable – monitoring their energy consumption to make greener choices,” he added.

Photo by Micah Hallahan on Unsplash

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