Cryptocurrency popularity continues to grow despite 2022 having been a rough year following the highs of 2021. However, not all this attention is good – their environmental impact has seen them come under scrutiny. Unveiling if this is justified or not, ForexSuggest has looked at the impact of different cryptos on the planet. 

As of September 2022, there are thought to be over 12,000 cryptocurrencies in circulation, including popular favourites Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. However, the process of mining cryptos can be detrimental to the planet. Cryptos polluting nature requires a large amount of energy, something often not welcomed in a world which is currently highly conscious of the effects of climate change.

An increasing number of people are becoming more aware of the global impact of crypto trading, including business tycoon Elon Musk, who announced in May 2021 that his company Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment, due to its high emissions. Crypto has also been completely banned in a number of countries, such as China, Egypt and Morocco, with partial bans also in place in countries such as the Maldives, Vietnam, and Libya.

Most polluting cryptos

Forexsuggest took a look at some of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies to see how much CO2 they produce per transaction. Each cryptocurrency used a different amount of electricity when processing a transaction and mining new tokens, due to some methods being more complex and energy-intensive than others.

Here’s how some of the most popular cryptocurrencies compare to each other in terms of CO2 emissions and energy consumption per transaction.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin is by far the most-polluting cryptocurrency available. It uses 1183.58 kWh per transaction, which equates to 1775 lbs of CO2, meaning that Bitcoin produces almost a ton of CO2 emissions! This is a rather large increase from last year when the cryptocurrency was producing 1,061 lbs of CO2.

Polygon

Due to Ethereum moving to a new blockchain this year, Polygon is now making an appearance on the list. The cryptocurrency uses 90.18 kWh per transaction, which equates to 135.27 lbs of CO2.

Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoin Cash produces the third highest amount of pollution. The cryptocurrency uses 18.96 kWh per transaction, meaning that it produces 28.44 lbs of CO2. Despite creating the third highest amount of pollution, Bitcoin Cash has managed to keep its energy consumption and CO2 emissions at the same level since last year.

Environmental impact of crypto transactions

Forexsuggest wanted to find out how much pollution each of the selected cryptocurrencies produced over the course of a year. It wanted to find out how many trees would need to be planted in order to offset the amount of pollution caused by each cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin: 
  • 2022 CO2 emissions: 86.3 million tons
  • Number of trees required: 431.6 million trees required

Even though Bitcoin experienced a drop in its CO2 emissions in 2021 from the previous year, it has now seen a substantial increase. With a projected 86.3 million tons of CO2 emissions for 2022, a huge 431.6 million trees would need to be planted in order for Bitcoin’s annual CO2 emissions to be removed from the atmosphere.

Litecoin:
  • 2022 CO2 emissions: 525.2 thousand tons
  • Number of trees required: 2.6 million trees required

Following Ethereum’s move to a new blockchain, Litecoin finds itself on the list again, this time in second place. The cryptocurrency is now estimated to produce 525.4 thousand tons of CO2 emissions per year. This means that 2.6 million trees would need to be planted in order to counteract the pollution.

Bitcoin Cash:
  • 2021 CO2 emissions: 141.4 thousand tons
  • Number of trees required: 707.3 thousand trees required
  • Francis Bignell

    Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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