Cryptocurrencies are digital assets that are mined and traded on super-computers which consumes large amounts of energy and fuel, which is detrimental to the natural resources. A single bitcoin transaction can leave behind carbon footprints worth 1088.94 kgCO2, electrical energy of 2292.50kWh and electronic waste of 289.80g.
Can it be made more sustainable?
Efforts to make the crypto platform more sustainable can be made by generating the energy required for mining and transacting crypto coins using methane gas and other alternative energies rather than fossil fuels. Initiatives like co-locating bitcoin mining operations with zero-carbon resources (nuclear, hydro, wind, and solar) can help reduce the carbon emissions associated with mining the bitcoins. Global initiatives like Bitcoin Mining Council and Crypto Climate are working on developing ways to make the process more sustainable. However, not too many efforts are taken to tackle the amount of e-waste generated from mining and trading in cryptocurrencies.
Environmental laws put in place to monitor the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies
As of now, there are debates to make it more sustainable by relying on renewable sources of energy to mine and trade the coins, but there are no laws that specifically address the regulation of supercomputers and the environmental impact of cryptocurrencies. Both national and global laws can be drafted to regulate the use of supercomputers and manage e-waste generated from mining and trading in cryptocurrencies. India already has E-Waste Management Rules that can be expanded to include waste generated from cryptocurrencies. However, specific guidelines and penalties must also be imposed so as to bring accountability among those involved in the cryptocurrency market. At the global front, the Basel Convention International Treaty seeks to address hazardous waste and its management. These can further be amended for countries to incorporate laws on managing e-waste generated from the cryptocurrencies market.