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Greenpeace, Ripple co-founder campaigning to change Bitcoin code

Greenpeace, along with other climate groups, and co-founder and executive chairman of Ripple, Chris Larsen, has launched a new campaign aimed at changing Bitcoin (BTC) to a more environmentally friendly consensus model.

The “Change the code, not the climate” campaign aims to pressure key industry leaders, Bitcoin miners, and influencers like Elon Musk, and Jack Dorsey, into moving over to a new consensus model saying:

“If only 30 people — the key miners, exchanges, and core developers who build and contribute to Bitcoin’s code — agreed to reinvent proof-of-work mining or move to a low-energy protocol, Bitcoin would stop polluting the planet.”

Greenpeace cites concerns that the energy required to mine Bitcoin comes mostly from fossil fuels, and that miners are using coal waste and associated natural gas as ways to fuel their operations.

Greenpeace accepted Bitcoin donations for seven years between 2014 and May 2021 before announcing it was halting acceptance of Bitcoin donations, citing environmental concerns. Around the same time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stopped accepting Bitcoin payments for Tesla vehicles also.

Ethereum (ETH), which currently relies on the same proof-of-work mechanism as Bitcoin, is in the final stages of a lengthy and complicated process to a new proof-of-stake mechanism. Greenpeace says proof-of-stake is much less environmentally harmful due to its lower energy consumption.

“Now with Ethereum changing, Bitcoin really is the outlier,” Larsen said to Bloomberg in an interview published on March 29. “Some of the newer protocols, Solana and Cardano are built on low energy,” he added.

Larsen stated he owns Bitcoin and Ethereum and wanted to see both cryptocurrencies succeed, but that Bitcoin is heading down an unsustainable path. He added that if he had concerns about Bitcoin as competition for Ripple, he would let it continue.

Related: In defense of crypto: Why digital currencies deserve a better reputation

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Some of the largest Bitcoin mining companies hold in excess of 5,000 BTC, upward of $237 million at current prices, and data shows that those with the most Bitcoin reserves are increasing their hash rate.

Greenpeace does note this in its manifesto, saying they understand Bitcoin stakeholders have an incentive not to change, as changing Bitcoin would make their expensive equipment much less valuable, meaning sunk costs or “other creative solutions” would have to be implemented.

Chris Bendiksen, a Bitcoin researcher at CoinShares was quoted in the report saying:

“I’d put the chance of Bitcoin ever moving to PoS at exactly 0%. There is no appetite among Bitcoiners to destroy the security of the protocol by making such a move.”

Greenpeace did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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