Vitalik Buterin Says Ethereum Merge Cut Global Energy Usage by 0.2%, One of Biggest Decarbonization Events Ever

Ethereum now spews out less carbon dioxide than a few hundred U.S. households, according to a report.

AccessTimeIconSep 15, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 9, 2024 at 11:19 p.m. UTC

The Ethereum Merge lowered the world’s energy consumption by 0.2%, according to the blockchain’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin, marking what may be one of the single biggest decarbonization efforts in history.

The overhaul cut Ethereum’s energy use by 99.988% and carbon-dioxide emissions by 99.992%. The decrease means the network now spews out less carbon dioxide (CO2) than a few hundred U.S. households do during a full year of electricity use, according to a new report from the Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute (CCRI).

CoinDesk Special Coverage: The Ethereum Merge

"We're delighted to have commissioned this report from CCRI, which substaniates the Ethereum Merge's impact as likely the biggest decarbonization effort of any industry in history," ConsenSys founder Jospeh Lubin, who also co-founded Ethereum, said in a statement.

The long-awaited Merge muscled out crypto miners from running Ethereum, doing away with a system called proof-of-work (PoW) in favor of a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism, which doesn't require vast server farms running complex computations and thus consumes a lot of electricity. The amount of energy guzzled by PoW, which is how Bitcoin and other blockchains still operate, has come under extreme scrutiny from lawmakers and policymakers around the world.

Before its transition to PoS, a single Ethereum transaction used 200.05 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, comparable to how much the average U.S. household uses in 6.7 days, according to one estimate.

Bitcoin still uses PoW, drawing criticism from environmentalists and policymakers. However, some bitcoin advocates have argued that bitcoin mining uses a larger mix of renewable energy than other industries and can actually help the world transition to cleaner energy.

Michael Saylor, who has turned MicroStrategy from a software developer into a corporate bitcoin vault, argued Wednesday in a letter that bitcoin mining is “the most efficient, cleanest industrial use of electricity.”

The Merge not only could help the environment, it could also lure more money to Ethereum from ESG investors – those who only invest in companies and industries that achieve certain environmental, social and corporate-governance goals. Investors barred from buying tokens that run on PoW systems may be able to buy ETH, Ethereum’s native token, after the PoS switch, Bank of America said in a report this week.

However, miners that were mining ether (ETH) prior to the Merge have now switched to mining other PoW-based digital assets, such as Ethereum Classic, Ravencoin and Beam.


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Aoyon Ashraf

Aoyon Ashraf is managing editor with more than a decade of experience in covering equity markets