Bitcoin was the world’s most pollutive cryptocurrency of 2022 after producing almost a ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) in emissions per transaction, according to a report from Forexsuggest.com, a foreign exchange and education platform based in Luxembourg.
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The Bitcoin network saw a substantial increase in CO2 emissions last year after pollution was reduced in 2021, the report said.
The entire Bitcoin network emitted around 86.3 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2022. That would require about 431.6 million trees to remove Bitcoin’s annual emissions from the atmosphere, according to the foreign exchange platform.
The report did not account for the rising number of Bitcoin producers shifting to sustainable energy sources. In the third quarter of 2022, the Bitcoin mining industry’s sustainable energy mix was estimated to be at 59.4%, representing a 3% improvement from the year prior, according to the Bitcoin Mining Council.
Bitcoin mining, or its proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism, has long been a main criticism against the network due to its energy-intensive requirements. Ethereum, once the second-largest mining blockchain in the world, completed the transition to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism last September to slash the network’s energy usage by 99.95%.
Unlike the PoW, in which miners use computational power to compete and validate transactions, PoS relies on token holders to lock a certain amount of their coins as collateral to verify transactions in exchange for rewards.
Out of the ten cryptocurrencies in market capitalization, XRP used the least energy per transaction last year, while the Polygon network registered the second-highest CO2 emissions per transaction, according to data from Forex Suggest.
Litecoin, which also runs on the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism as a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain, was last year’s second-largest polluter, producing about 525,400 tons of CO2. Bitcoin Cash, another Bitcoin fork, came in third on the list with 141,400 tons of CO2.
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