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Ripple co-founder believes Bitcoin must renounce Proof of Work

Photo of: Joseph Stone
by Joseph Stone

Environmental issues are on the rise with Bitcoin. Ripple (XRP) co-founder Chris Larsen believes that the BTC blockchain should migrate to a different consensus mechanism than PoW.

Bitcoin consumes too much energy. In a context of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, the topic of consensus models operated by blockchains becomes more sensitive.

The crypto community is also taking up this issue. Square and Ark Invest are encouraging miners to invest more heavily in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The co-founder of Ripple Labs, the issuer of XRP, goes even further. Chris Larsen suggests that Bitcoin’s developers could embark on migrating the blockchain to another consensus mechanism.

Bitcoin relies on Proof-of-Work, which means the mobilization of computing power. Unlike other mechanisms, such as Proof-of-Stake, adopted by Ethereum 2.0, PoW is power hungry.

Chris Larsen is not specifically targeting Bitcoin, however. It is the entire industry that he calls on to reconsider the relevance of Proof-of-Work.

“Addressing the climate crisis is a priority for all segments of society and the economy – including new emerging technologies like cryptocurrencies,” he considers.

And unlike Square and Ark, the green energy option is not a sufficient solution, he believes. “It’s not just about switching to renewable energy sources, but also about reducing unnecessary energy consumption,” Chris Larsen argues.

So the most effective approach would be to consider a code change to another validation method. This could be Proof-of-Stake (PoS), Federated Consensus or another method to be developed.

“I know this is a bold proposal. But it deserves serious discussion given the current state of the world (compared to when bitcoin was launched in 2009),” the Ripple executive acknowledges.

A recent stance by the company’s CEO on the consumption of Bitcoin had sparked a real controversy. “It’s just not ideal as a payment mechanism [because] of the energy costs of PoW [Proof-of-Work],” Brad Garlinghouse said.

The executive later had to justify himself and refute any call to ban BTC. “First of all, I’m absolutely not saying that we should ban BTC! I am saying that we, collectively, can and should understand the carbon footprint of PoW,” Garlinghouse wrote.

So Larsen is back at it again, but with a bit of a rhetorical flourish. “We should view PoW for what it is: a brilliantly designed technology that is becoming obsolete in today’s world. This in no way means that Bitcoin and other PoW cryptocurrencies are themselves outdated. “