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The climate-friendly crypto boom and the metaverse are a major concern due to the explosion in cryptocurrencies.
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The climate-friendly crypto boom and the metaverse are a major concern due to the explosion in cryptocurrencies.

A power plant with chimneys emitting smoke


As concerns riseAnd Hearings are held in the US about the cryptocurrency industry’s effect on the environment, it’s time to address blockchain’s poor sustainability record. The first port of call should be changing how transactions on the blockchain operate – a move which could cut its energy usage by 99.99%.

A cryptocurrency is a digital representation of value that, unlike traditional money, isn’t issued by any central bank or agency. The cryptocurrency currency is powered by Blockchain technology, which allows you to exchange virtual coins such as bitcoin and ether.

Cryptocurrency miningMining is the process of creating new currencies by solving complex mathematical puzzles. Mining is also known. Validated transactions on the cryptocurrency’s network, proving that they’re genuine.

Crypto transactions can be validated in Two main ways: using either a “proof of work” or “proof of stake” mechanism.

Proof of work requires miners to compete around the world to solve a maths problem. The winner receives a predetermined amount cryptocurrency and the ability for them to validate their transaction.

Blockchain transactions can be validated by proof of stake. This is done based on the number and type of coins that are staked. To put it another way, cryptocurrency owners must provide their own cryptocurrency as collateral to approve transactions.

Proof of work is more secure than proof of stake, but it’s slower and consumes more energy. The pioneering blockchains use mining to generate their currency. BitcoinThey are based on proof-of-work and require enormous amounts of energy. However, switching to proof of stake can dramatically change the outcome. Reduce emissions.

However renewable energyAlthough cryptocurrency activities are being powered by some of the energy, this energy could be better used elsewhere, such as to power homes and businesses. Instead, if blockchain transactions were verified through proof of stake – a move that Ethereum is planning to make – their energy consumption could be reduced to 0.01% of its Original value.


The EstimateThe power required to run the Bitcoin network around the globe is 7.46 gigawatts per year. Comparatively, a typical-sized nuclear power plant produced approximately 1GW in 2020. Electrical powerIn one year. Just one bitcoin transaction could generate enough energy to power the entire nation. Average US homeFor more than 70 days.

A power plant with chimneys emitting smoke
Cryptocurrency transactions use huge amounts of energy.
Roman Ranniew/Flickr, CC BY – SA

As the US committee HearA bitcoin transaction adds around 400kg of CO² to the atmosphere (assuming it’s powered by an energy mix typical of the UK, of which around two-thirds comes from fossil fuel).

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Together, Bitcoin mining operations and Ethereum mining operations emit more that 70 million tonnes of CO² into the atmosphere. That’s the same as the annual exhaust emissions of over 15.5 million cars. One cryptocurrency mining company even wants to Restart operationsTwo coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania are available to generate more electricity.

Crypto futures

The main concern raised by the US committee was that, given the potential for a dramatic increase in cryptocurrencies’ value, their required energy consumption – and environmental impact – is likely to keep growing.

This is partly due to the boom in similar markets like Decentralised finance(DeFi) non-fungible tokens(NFTs), which are largely built on the Ethereum blockchain.

DeFi, a financial system that uses blockchain technology, allows users to make investments and transactions without the need for a central intermediary. NFTs are unique digital media pieces that are stored on blockchain.

Two characters painted on a wall
An artist’s impression of a Bored Ape NFT, one of the most popular images on the market.
Scott Beale/Flickr, CC BY -NC -ND

However DeFi only launched in 2017, its value already hit £85 billion in November 2021. And NFTs’ total sale value grew from £74 million in 2020 to £29.6 billion in 2021.

Also, since NFTs are most commonly created on the Ethereum blockchain – which uses proof of work to verify transactions – it takes a lot of energy to create one. NFTs are prominently featured in the growing metaTheir energy needs are only going to rise.

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Although it may sound contradictory at first, adopting blockchain technology could lead to a number of benefits. positive effectLong-term environmental impact. It could be used by companies to automate complex payment systems, which could reduce the commute time for employees and result in fewer transport-related emission.

While the extent of this transformation is very hard to predict, it’s becoming clear that as blockchain technology grows, its benefitsYou will, too. For example, as developments in blockchain continue to break new ground in business and finance, we’re seeing cryptocurrency accelerate financial inclusion for those who’ve historically been excluded from participating in formal financial systems.

As More businessesTo enter the metaverse governments and regulators need to ensure that there are no environmental ramifications. It would be a good idea to require blockchains to accept proof of stake.


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