How to Reduce the Climate Impact of Blockchains




The rise of blockchain technology has been meteoric. It has the potential to revolutionize the open source ecosystem, which is why Intel and other industry leaders are working to answer the question of what a more standardized and regulated Web3 will look like. Open source solutions are necessarily a part of this answer, but it’s important to consider the climate impact of blockchains.

Intel and Linux Foundation Research* hosted the Sustainable Blockchains Roundtable on July 29, 2022, it was created and led by Tamara Kneese and Zane Griffin Talley Cooper.

The tech world moves fast and since last summer two big developments related to sustainability have made an impact: the Ethereum merge and an increase in regulation with respect to mining proof-of-work cryptocurrency. The takeaway: blockchain ecosystems decoupled from energy use are still advantageous.

The recently released report, sponsored by Intel and published by LF Research, summarizes three areas of action: governance of ecosystems, cultivation of knowledge, and greater advocary for infrastrcuture innovation.


Leveraging Open Source Development

Open source development is an integral part of Web3 and blockchain technologies, and it’s important to maximize the sustainability of these blockchains.

A blockchain is, at its simplest, a distributed ledger protocol that exists across a network. Although blockchains aren't inherently open source, the report notes there are already many open source climate-related blockchain projects including Filecoin Green*, Energy Web*, KlimaDAO* and Gitcoin*.

"There are signals that open source sustainable blockchains will be of increasing financial and social interest," the researchers note, citing a two-day open source Filecoin event on sustainable blockchains. The report cites research from the University of Pittsburg where an open source blockchain serves as a neutral, third-party dashboard for e-waste, that could help the industry as well as consumers and regulators to confirm corporate claims about “safe, ethical, and green recycling practices” and “align behaviors across recyclers toward a circular economy.” Other signs include a on open source blockchains organized by AI for Good and the topic also made an appearance at the 2023 World Economic Forum.

Roundtable participants – who hailed from Australia, Canada, Iceland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States – as well as varied industries also considered the term “sustainability” in terms of software development and the open ethos:

  • Sustainable development means that a project retains and funds core developers (core devs) for the long term, cultivates new core devs, and rotates talent over time
  • Sustainable participation means that a project continually communicates with its community, welcomes input in critical decisions, and brings the community along
  • Sustainable operation so that use of the technology at any scale and in any context does no harm and maybe even helps the environment


Reducing the climate impact of blockchains is an important issue that must be addressed to meet Intel's pledge to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in global operations by 2040.
Open source development can play an important role in creating sustainable blockchain solutions. "Open source blockchains help ensure greater transparency while making it easier for various companies and agencies to collaborate," the report concludes.

By leveraging these methods, the community can make a positive environmental impact with blockchain technologies and ensure that the open source ecosystem builds on a foundation of sustainability.

Check out the full 46-page report on "Web3 and Sustainability" here.