What is COP27?
COP27 stands for the 27th edition of the ‘Conference of the Parties’. COP is an annual summit in which international governments and industry representatives are invited to discuss pressing global issues. Ever since 154 countries signed the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in 1992, most COP discussions have been revolving around measures to combat climate change and its impacts.
COP27 builds on the outcomes of COP26 to deliver action on an array of issues critical to tackling the climate emergency — from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience, and adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change; to delivering on the commitments to finance climate action in developing countries.
Faced with a growing energy crisis, record greenhouse gas concentrations, and increasing extreme weather events, COP27 seeks renewed solidarity between countries, to deliver on the landmark Paris Agreement.
What did COP27 achieve?
Amidst the global food and energy crisis, increasing records of extreme and erratic weather events, and record greenhouse gas emissions, the COP27 was crucial to inculcate renewed solidarity between nations and deliver on the landmark Paris Agreement from COP21.
The failure of COP27 to demonstrate commitments or display evidence of significant steps taken by nations to curb rising global emissions was a huge step back and a missed opportunity to renew productive attitudes towards limiting global warming and climate change.
Despite this, it was encouraging to witness a step towards the restoration of China-US climate diplomacy, and the pledges made towards enhancing resilience for 4 billion people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities.
Where does crypto come to play?
Confronted with the consistently soaring emissions, this boom of cryptocurrency mining has been called out as one of the main culprits. In 2021 alone, it was found that
bitcoin mining consumes 104.89 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year, a number significantly higher than the consumption of Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft combined. The huge carbon footprint is often traced back to its decentralised nature and the need for energy-intensive Proof-of-Work (PoW). Coupled with the increasing popularity and price of Bitcoin, miners are also becoming increasingly competitive with their mining, resulting in the soaring use of computing power and energy consumption.
Source from: Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index
How can we progress towards sustainability?
It is vital to embrace renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, in place of conventional fossil fuels to move towards a more environmentally-conscious cryptocurrency ecosystem. The largest cloud Bitcoin mining company, Genesis mining, has also been proactively leading the movement towards renewable energy-based mining.
Alternative measures such as carbon offsetting projects such as tree planting projects, and landfill management will also help the crypto industry to neutralise part of its carbon footprint.
Sustainable development of crypto
Conventionally, the PoW consensus would consume the energy equivalent of a medium-safed country to keep the PoW chain secure. However, with PoS in place, the mining of Ether will no longer require energy-intensive computers while reducing latency and electrical bills.
Source from: Ethereum’s energy usage will soon decrease by ~99.95%.
While the optimistic developments within the crypto community should be lauded, it is extremely crucial not to allow any room for complacency, especially in the current context of ever-intensifying and rampant climate change. Ethereum has unveiled the power of innovation, and it should be the precedent for more to come.
Even though COP27 succeeded in raising the profile of adaptation, there is still much more work to be done before resilience finance flows match those contributing to climate mitigation.