This is the transcript of a recent interview with Sean Murphy and Gregg Betz, the founders of ImpactScope, a Swiss based social enterprise focused on helping crypto exchanges, mining pools and crypto enthusiasts offset their Bitcoin carbon footprints.
Digiconomist: Welcome Sean and Gregg. Tell us more about ImpactScope. What tools and services do you offer?
Gregg: Hi Alex. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to tell your readers more about how we can help them offset their crypto carbon footprints. The mission of ImpactScope is to help Bitcoin stakeholders, be they exchanges, end users, mining pools or institutional investors, become greener, more sustainable, more aware of the environmental consequences of their actions. We provide them with the tools they need to offset the carbon footprint of their Bitcoin transactions.
Sean: The main service we offer is an easy-to-integrate suite of tools and APIs that can be deployed by exchanges. Once deployed, these APIs allow the clients of exchanges to offset their onchain Bitcoin transactions in real time by purchasing high quality offsets in environmental projects vetted by the word’s leading certification bodies.
Digiconomist: Does that mean that if a Bitcoin enthusiast wants to offset their crypto carbon footprint they have to go to one of your partner exchanges?
Gregg: Not at all. Anyone can go straight to our offsetting portal right now. It’s easy to calculate your personal Bitcoin carbon footprint. The process takes less than a minute. Then you can choose from three environmental projects and offset an equivalent amount of tonnes of carbon. It costs just 20 dollars to offset three onchain transactions.
Digiconomist: Does offsetting really work? Some people would describe offsetting as an indulgence that doesn’t really make a difference.
Sean: CO2 is a global threat because it diffuses relatively evenly throughout the earth’s lower atmosphere. That means, for example, that the negative effects of CO₂ from coal-burning power station in northern China can be felt and measured on the other side of the world within a matter of weeks. However, once emitted, some parts of excess CO₂ can remain in the atmosphere for decades or even longer.
Gregg: Thankfully, the flip side of this means that when we reduce or prevent CO₂ emissions on one side of the world, we can help reduce the overall CO₂ levels of the planet. This is where offsetting comes in. Offsetting is just one tool in fighting climate change. Naturally, it is not a panacea but it can be a powerful weapon. Methods of carbon offsetting are changing too. Over time direct air capture technology will replace natural capital solutions. Within three years we expect that a significant portion of our clients will choose tech-enabled carbon removal to achieve their net zero targets.
Digiconomist: I suppose this is good timing for ImpactScope given all the recent media attention surrounding the carbon footprint of Bitcoin. Elon Musk probably helped to?
Gregg: Yes, for sure. It’s been great to see the recent reports from Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC, New York Times, etc. It seems every week a new mainstream media outlet is running a piece on this subject. Tesla’s purchase of USD 1.5 billion of Bitcoin has helped focus even greater attention on the massive electricity consumption of the Bitcoin network.
Sean: It is also important because finally many of the false narratives that Bitcoin is somehow green and mostly mined using renewables are being dubunked in the mainstream media and not just in academic journals. This is a key turning point. People are finally learning that more than 60 % of the Bitcoin network hash rate is dependent on non-renewable energy sources, primarily coal in Xinjiang Province, Inner Mongolia and Kazakhstan, or mined using oil and gas in Iran.
Digiconomist: Well you don’t have to tell me about false narratives. What is your plan to counter the climate change deniers and those so-called crypto influencers who still insist, against all the evidence, that Bitcoin is green?
Sean: The absence of balanced and honest dialogue is a problem. Certain “influential” people in the crypto space who have platforms and megaphones should probably just accept that yes Bitcoin in its current form is extremely inefficient and the environmental consequences have become far too big to ignore. We can admit that Bitcoin has serious flaws but still be passionate about the future of Bitcoin.
Gregg: There are problems on the other side too. Many of the individual researchers, environmentalists, data scientists, etc. who write extensively about the carbon footprint of PoW are themselves fundamentally anti-Bitcoin and anti-crypto, or at least they are perceived as such. That’s a problem. Antagonizing the people you want to convert is not an effective PR strategy.
Sean: I would add that we’re not preachy outsiders on a mission to tell people how bad Bitcoin is. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the ImpactScope management team has been in crypto since the early days. We’re on Team Bitcoin, but if we really want decentralized peer-to-peer payments to be scalable and sustainable we have to start engaging in genuine conversations about the environmental consequences of Proof of Work. If mining pools, exchanges, crypto funds, and end users make an effort to offset their Bitcoin activity that would be a start at least.
Digiconomist: Where do you see Bitcoin in 10 years? What is the future of PoW?
Gregg: I wish we could see around corners. The short answer is we don’t know. Cryptocurrencies and digital assets are here to stay, but which ones will be the dominant networks and what will the consensus mechanisms look like a decade from now, that is the big question.
Sean: We know that Bitcoin stakeholders are capable of making changes if there is enough stakeholder support. The introduction of SegWit four years ago showed us that. So, it’s not outside the realms of possibility that other protocol modifications will be introduced.
Disclaimer. This interview is powered by ImpactScope.