Crypto’s Carbon Footprint Could Hinder Adoption: Deutsche Bank

“Mining just one bitcoin consumes a larger carbon footprint than nearly 2 billion Visa transactions,” the bank said.

AccessTimeIconDec 10, 2021 at 1:23 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 10, 2024 at 2:37 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

In the past three years bitcoin’s market cap has grown to more than $1 trillion from $70 billion, and its “annual global energy consumption increased nearly four times, to over 200 terawatt hours (TWh),” according to a research report by Deutsche Bank on the crypto industry’s sustainability issues.

While bitcoin’s environmental impact was hardly mentioned at the recent COP26 climate conference, it remains a key issue for crypto users, the bank said.

“Mining just one bitcoin consumes a larger carbon footprint than nearly 2 billion Visa transactions” and just one bitcoin transaction could power the average U.S. household for 61 days, analyst Marion Laboure wrote in the Dec. 9 note.

“Crypto’s carbon footprint could hinder adoption,” the bank said, noting that as of July 64% of sovereign-wealth funds had a policy covering environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

Private sector companies have also pledged to become carbon neutral, Deutsche Bank observed. In the public sector, 197 have signed up to the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit rising global temperatures to 2°C by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. The bank cites one study that predicts bitcoin mining alone could lead to an increase of that amount in just three decades.

Due to the carbon footprint of mining operations, some governments and regulators, such as the Chinese, are taking action, the report said. But as the market value of cryptocurrencies expands “people will find a way to mine, trade and use cryptocurrencies, especially in an unregulated market.”

The bank sees a number of ways to approach the “decarbonization of cryptocurrencies,” including a move to renewable energy sources; disincentivizing carbon-fueled mining; a switch to proof-of-stake protocols from proof-of-work; or by pre-mining tokens.

At the moment, 76% of bitcoin’s global energy consumption comes from non-renewable sources like coal, the note said.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Author placeholder image

Will Canny is CoinDesk's finance reporter.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.