New Bitcoin Campaign Group Wants “Basic” Switch to Proof-of-Stake

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  • A new campaign to halt proof-of-work mining has launched
  • Change the Code Not the Climate wants Bitcoin to switch to a proof-of-stake mechanism
  • The group, backed by Greenpeace, is using the new tactic of undermining Bitcoin’s inner workings

A new campaign group backed by Greenpeace is campaigning for Bitcoin to change from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to a proof-of-stake mechanism in order to stop Bitcoin mining contributing to climate change. ‘Change the Code Not the Climate’ says that a “software code change” could reduce Bitcoin’s energy use by 99%, citing Ethereum as an example of a blockchain that is shifting mining practices, and calls on individuals to contact the likes of Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey to help “clean up Bitcoin”. The campaign is another example of the shift in tactics of attacking Bitcoin’s mining methods as a way of getting to Bitcoin itself.

Alongside Greenpeace, Change the Code Not the Climate is backed by the Environmental Working Group and several groups battling Bitcoin mining facilities in their communities, using the well worn statistics to back up their case, some of which have been debunked entirely if not severely questioned in recent years.

Energy Stats Questioned

The group uses the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index to claim that Bitcoin uses more energy than Sweden, a site that has become the go-to repository for Bitcoin mining data. However, in its FAQs the site explains that “Bitcoin’s electricity consumption can thus only be estimated” and that, “These approximations are based on theoretical models that rely on specific assumptions.”

The group also cites a piece in the journal Nature Climate Change, claiming that “if Bitcoin becomes widely adopted, it could produce enough carbon dioxide emissions to warm the planet above 2 degrees Celsius.” This report, produced in 2019, noted that Bitcoin would need to be adopted at the same scale as “other broadly adopted technologies” like televisions and refrigerators by 2033 to play out, something which is far from happening.

The theory is also based on the assumption that Bitcoin’s energy use increases in line with adoption, which some models state will not be the case in the future.

Bitcoin PoS Switch Will Never Happen

Change the Code Not the Climate says that Bitcoin’s goals of “progress, fairness, and good intentions” can be attained “if the industry gets serious about crypto that runs on low energy”, making a stunning claim:

We know a basic software code change would reduce Bitcoin’s energy use by 99.9%.
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.

The fact that the group claims that switching from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake constitutes a “basic” change says all you need to know about their level of understanding of the matter, not to mention the ideological factors at play that discount this as a viable option.

A Bitcoin not based on proof-of-work is, quite simply, not Bitcoin, and not one person with a vested interest in Bitcoin’s guiding principles is going to countenance such a change on a voluntary basis.

Campaign Highlights New Direction

Regardless of the merits of its actions, the fact that a group backed by Greenpeace has chosen to target proof-of-work shows that the battlefield is shifting. Groups like this know that they can no longer ban Bitcoin and so are trying to ban, or encourage the abandonment of, the proof-of-work consensus mechanism, something that, as we have seen already with the recent EU parliament vote, is a tactic that is already bearing fruit in some quarters.