Blockchain aficionados see a chance to reboot the internet, government, and society by moving into the Web3 era. Cryptocurrency fans are hailing its potential to bring 1 billion unbanked people into the financial world, but detractors believe that blockchain networks waste energy, with digital currencies being a Ponzi scheme and/or a convenient way for criminal gangs to hide illicit activity.
Obviously, new technologies are pushing society to think about better ways to organize systems, of which blockchain protocols play a part. Can these technologies lead to a greener future by helping to reduce carbon offsetting and greenhouse gas emissions?
Crypto and the environment are becoming talked about more and more in the same sentence, with blockchain having great potential to contribute to the public good, empowering communities, and solving one of the world’s biggest problems. Since the inception of NEAR Protocol, the employment of the Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm as a computational alternative to Proof-of-Work has been focused on as a big point of difference from Bitcoin and Ethereum, but there are many other ways NEAR is contributing to the wellbeing of the planet as well. In this blog post, we will explain what makes NEAR a carbon-neutral blockchain and what steps the project team is taking to build a green future, ensure Web3 sustainability, and reduce cryptocurrency’s environmental impact. You will learn about the ongoing projects that NEAR supports as part of its ecosystem initiative, development trends, and the future of NEAR social good and crypto projects.
Bringing social change with NEAR
The most well-known impact of decentralized blockchain technology on the environment is related to its energy consumption and negative impact on the climate. The current standard transaction verification process based on the PoW algorithm that Bitcoin and Ethereum use is extremely energy intensive, requiring a huge amount of computing power and therefore electricity to run complex calculations.
NEAR is climate-neutral
Most people agree that it is imperative to find a way to reduce the energy consumption for verifying transactions. To replace the original proof-of-work algorithm, other approaches are used, such as PoS blockchain, proof-of-authority, or proof-of-time algorithms. Some blockchains and cryptocurrencies, such as NEAR Protocol and the USN stablecoin, already rely on these alternatives.
So how does NEAR Protocol achieve carbon neutrality? In addition to reducing energy consumption by using PoS, NEAR has purchased carbon offsets from certified South Pole climate change projects to offset all direct and indirect blockchain-related emissions.
Interested in combating climate change with the help of blockchain? Read our blog post How is sustainable blockchain helping to combat climate change and reach net-zero emissions?
NEAR Nightshade – Carbon Neutral Core
NEAR Nightshade increases throughput through sharding, a scaling technology that divides computing into “shards” that run in parallel. Nightshade allows each transaction to be much more energy efficient than PoW platforms, allowing the network to scale without increasing power consumption.
With NEAR’s Nightshade, every transaction is processed on a shard rather than through every node in the network. Along with PoS, this greatly reduces the energy consumption of the blockchain, thus reducing the NEAR carbon footprint.
In the field of education, the NEAR Foundation works with the Blockchain Acceleration Foundation (BAF). Its mission is to offer practical education, skills and training leading to work and participation in the Web3 sustainability space. BAF has a unique structure and is positioned as a link between educational institutions, students, and the blockchain industry. It gives meaningful insights into how people can go from just learning about blockchain to building a substantial career and income.
The Acceleration Program works closely with blockchain clubs across universities to support them; from funding to providing mentorship. The foundation is independent and funded by various protocols and laboratories, including the NEAR Foundation.
Through the Fiscal Sponsorship Program, BAF helps varsity clubs find donors and provides the legal means and basis for exchanging money. BAF also teaches students how to become validators on networks like NEAR. The project offers both technical expertise to work with Web3 and legal passive crypto income for funding purposes. BAF provides students with the right equipment, study guides, mentoring, and office hours to give them a Web3 experience and create an income stream for their club by running nodes.
DeFi and yield farming education on NEAR
As part of educational activities, the team of the protocol has created a NEAR University for analysts, developers, artists, and instructors with more than 20 education and knowledge programs in the decentralized finance sector and advanced training courses. Over the university’s existence, $1.74 million in ecosystem grants has been distributed among more than 5000 students.
As part of yield farming, the PembRock project team on the NEAR blockchain created a school to train future leveraged yield farming professionals. The team supports the idea of facilitating and rapidly developing the future of Web3, which will be available to all users through the NEAR ecosystem and a network of convenient applications. The official School of PembRock provides free access to detailed information about what lending is, how liquidity is provided to decentralized exchanges, what leveraged farming is, and much more.
Projects to note
Climate change projects
Raiz Vertical Farms
Raiz Vertical Farms offers an evolution in the way food is produced. Launched in 2021, the Raiz project aims to turn underused urban spaces in Lisbon into vibrant vertical farms. They bring sustainable, healthy vegetables to the tables of the rising Lisbon scene. Smart vertical farms can reduce the use of fertilizers, water up to 10 times, area up to 95%, and completely eliminate the use of pesticides. As the project develops, Raiz will introduce vertical farms to other cities, starting a true evolution of urban farming.
Raiz uses NFT on the Mitnbase marketplace to fund vertical farms in urban spaces. In the long term, the project plans to connect the physical and digital worlds by turning local hydroponic systems into investment assets. Using the power of DeFi, Raiz will be able to use the blockchain to trace the origin of food as well as where positive impact occurs locally.
Green NFTs is a NEAR Foundation initiative in which environmentally conscious artists create artwork to be sold in the South Pole store on Mintbase. Half of the profits from these artworks will go to the artist, while the other half will go to a number of climate change projects developed by South Pole.
Green NFT initiatives are only possible because the underlying infrastructure is carbon neutral. In particular, as mentioned above, due to carbon offsets certificate from South Pole.
Open Forest Protocol
Open Forest Protocol is an application on the NEAR blockchain to accelerate the global response to climate change through reforestation initiatives. They have created a system that allows people to access transparent measurement, reporting and verification of reforestation and forest conservation projects, laying the foundation for an accelerated response to humanity’s greatest existential threat.
The OFP consists of a web application to download data from the field, a blockchain-based framework to validate environmental data, and the resulting open source database from which climate solutions can be generated. Their tools allow anyone from all over the world to start a forestry project, report reliably on progress, and seek funding from global sponsors/investors.
The idea of Kin DAO was transformed from a cooperative that dealt with issues such as food insecurity, poverty, climate change, and others. Since 2021, the founders of KIN DAO have been using blockchain to promote active investment in art, regenerative innovation, and collective land management.
The vision of the project is to inspire communities to collective, autonomous and sustainable existence in harmony with the Earth and with each other. Its mission is to provide communities with strong food security, health support, resilience and connectivity by redistributing resources into shared abundance. Gradually, the project’s vision expanded from food security to the creation of decentralized, self-sufficient micro-communities and economies through art, collective land management, and the creation of regenerative systems.
The goal of the Web3 Familia — an organization and DAO — is to bring more than a million Hispanics around the world to Web3. In Web3, this crossover between underprivileged communities and investors is not uncommon and has great potential.
The founder of Web3 Familia, Christian Narvaez, states that the idea for the project evolved from simple interaction with people who are interested in cryptocurrencies. Now they are educating institutional investors and venture capitalists who want to learn about blockchain to refocus how they use capital. Non-Web3 investors use Web3 Familia to learn more about the possibilities of blockchain.
The future of social good and crypto
While there are certainly challenges ahead, crypto and blockchain can lead us to a much greener planet, and the discussions about cryptocurrency environmental impact and energy are driving us to accelerate our transition to clean energy by providing us with the tools to do so.
NEAR Protocol is the perfect infrastructure for those who care about the environment. Using a PoS blockchain, it naturally consumes less power than proof-of-work chains. This makes NEAR more attractive for socially conscious projects since the global good directly depends on ecological balance.
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