Smart Offsets: Algorand Ups Sustainability Pledge With Self-Executing Code

The smart contract–based commitment to sustainability coincides with Earth Day, which is Friday.

AccessTimeIconApr 21, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:17 p.m. UTC

Algorand is continuing its campaign to be the greenest blockchain of them all, announcing a smart contract that will commit a slice of transaction fees to offset the chain’s carbon emissions in perpetuity.

The next generation of internet users will likely vote with their feet when it comes to high-energy-consumption blockchain technology, and proof-of-stake chains like Algorand, Solana and Filecoin are becoming green favorites. But it should also be noted that lots of innovation is happening with Bitcoin in this regard.

In addition to a carbon-negative pledge in writing (made on Earth Day 2021), the approach is now part of the Algorand protocol itself, said Vice President of Engineering Research Naveed Ihsanullah.

“We decided to make our carbon-negative pledge forever with blockchain transparency and perpetual smart contracts,” Ihsanullah said in an interview. “A smart contract takes the parameters of the blockchain – how many relays are involved, how many nodes are involved, how many transactions, etc. – and comes up with the offset power that needs to be paid for, and then uses transaction fees to pay for that.”

Algorand is also planning to mark Earth Day on Friday with an audacious takeover of New York City’s Times Square, turning all its giant LED billboards green, and then switching them to darkness for an hour to make a point about energy consumption.

“We’re going to take an hour out of Times Square’s time to run this event. What’s really compelling is that one hour of shutdown will save somewhere around 6,500 kilowatt hours. That will be roughly equivalent to the power required to finalize 350 million transactions on the Algorand blockchain,” Ihsanullah said, adding:

“I think that’s something on the order of one and a half seconds of Bitcoin work.”


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Ian Allison

Ian Allison is an award-winning senior reporter at CoinDesk. He holds ETH.