Businesses are investing billions into metaverse-related projects thanks to their ability to optimize operations, but a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Energy & Environmental Science, shows that the metaverse might also help to reduce carbon emissions.
According to the study, the metaverse could provide an effective means of reducing carbon emissions, subsequently reducing the adverse impacts of climate change. It also reveals adoption of the metaverse technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) could curb air pollution by about 10-23%.
In addition to cutting air pollution, the study argues that increasing metaverse activities can eventually offset the increased energy demands of the technology. This it states is true for both commercial and individual consumption.
Remote working, distance education as well as virtual travel and tourism effectively cuts on transportation energy use, according to the authors of the study.
“The metaverse industry is projected to lower the total domestic energy consumption by 92 EJ during its expansion from 2022 to 2050,” reads part of the report.
“Furthermore, swifter adoption of metaverse-based applications may lead to greater energy savings, as determined by quantifying the deviations in climate-related energy consumption induced by the metaverse,” it added.
While metaverse-related activities still require energy consumption, they can help to reduce the impact, leaving the environment with cleaner air.
The climate change conundrum
Global leaders are seeking ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change, as the topic becomes a hot-button issue in jurisdictions around the world.
The prevalence of climate change-induced disasters has been on the increase around the world. These disasters include heatwaves, rising sea levels, flash flooding, and extremely windy conditions.
The United Nations Environment Program has also indicated that global heating due to humans’ actions over the past 200 years resulted in temperatures rising by 1.1 degrees Celsius, leading to more climate-induced catastrophes. The resulting catastrophes can in turn lead to economic turmoil and political instability.
But the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy & Environmental Science suggests metaverse technologies may help in reducing the worldwide challenge of climate change.
“The climate impacts indicate the increased adoption of the metaverse technologies will benefit climate change mitigation and the metaverse sector growth can also facilitate energy saving, GHG emission reduction and air quality improvement,” states the paper.
Reduced emissions from transportation
While data centers, AR, VR, and other metaverse technologies consume energy to operate, the impact can be offset by reduced consumption by its physical alternatives like transportation. This has a net benefit since vehicles contribute significantly to carbon emissions.
“The metaverse industry growth can accelerate the progress towards achieving zero-net emission targets, as the growth contgributes to the decline of fossil fuel consumption,” says the study.
The report further suggests that NTFs might not increase energy consumption, since Ethereum’s shift to a more energy-efficient proof of stake (PoS) consensus mechanism.
“Converting assets to tokens on blockchain platforms, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), presents valuable opportunities for increased environmental sustainability,” adds the report.
Ethereum, last year shifted from proof of work (PoW) to PoS in a move that was argued would “reduce power consumption for mining operations.” The event reportedly reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 99%.