Cryptocurrencies have come under intense criticism this year, stemming from concerns about the energy-intensive infrastructure of proof-of-work networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Mining helps to process and secure transactions on these networks, but in so doing uses thousands of high-powered computers, consuming more energy annually than many nation states.
The rapid growth of sectors like decentralized finance (defi) and NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which provide trustless financial services and tokenized ownership of art and other unique items respectively, only serves to fuel such censure. These sectors predominantly rely on Ethereum proof-of-work, and there has been little attempt thus far to use the significant returns generated by dApps and DEXs to offset the environmental harms.
Ethereum's proposed switch to proof-of-stake, enabling participants to validate transactions according to how many tokens they hold rather than the computer power they run, promises to usher in a greener future. However, even proof-of-stake and other blockchain consensus models will have some degree of carbon impact and societal cost.
Two projects within the crypto space, Popcorn Network and Patch, are now looking to redress the balance. By integrating an Ethereum network emissions dashboard with a carbon removal platform, they seek to neutralize carbon emissions through high-quality, high-impact schemes.
The smart contract emissions dashboard developed by Popcorn will use Patch-powered Ethereum emissions data to calculate the carbon impact of any smart contract execution on the network. Patch will then provide automated contributions to a broad selection of carbon offset projects, including frontier negative emission technology and nature-based carbon sequestration.
'Defi has the potential to deliver significant social impact, while still generating returns for users,' said Brennan Spellacy, co-founder and CEO of Patch. 'Popcorn is working to make this potential a reality by offsetting their emissions mapped to running on Ethereum and allocating a meaningful portion of yield to high-impact carbon removal and offset projects.'
Popcorn Network was set up to create a more sustainable defi alternative, diverting 50% of the fees generated on its platform to a pool of high-impact carbon removal organizations selected by its community of users, with the aim of achieving carbon-neutrality. By integrating Patch's open-source smart contract emissions APIs, Popcorn believes it can now deliver on that lofty goal.
Through its high-yield index product, slated for release by the end of this year, Popcorn aims to demonstrate the natural union that defi and green initiatives can become, incentivizing users to contribute to societal causes by sharing a portion of the much higher yields on offer.
As a result, participants can make more contributions than the interest rates on offer at traditional banks alone, while still retaining most of their yield - providing a blueprint and benchmark for the wider crypto industry to follow.
'Popcorn ensures eco-friendly performance by offsetting its carbon footprint thanks to Patch, regardless of how many users and TVL we expect to accumulate,' explained Popcorn's Co-Founder Michael Kisselgof. 'This is a new paradigm for banking, allowing us to scale impact while generating competitive returns for our users. We're proud to be defi's first yield optimizer to go green.'