To ensure the integrity of the network, Bitcoin uses a computationally intensive process, so-called Proof-of-Work, where mining nodes are used to find a solution to a cryptographic problem that can only be solved by brute force. This requires (dedicated) hardware, which consumes substantial amounts of electricity. While our first assessment focused on determining electricity consumption, this index goes a step further and builds on our previous work to estimate Bitcoin's impact on the climate in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The comparisons on this page provide context to help make our results easier to interpret and, hence, more meaningful to a wider audience. 

However, it should be noted that three major limitations apply to all comparisons:

Note:  All following comparisons are based on our best-guess estimate. They are simply illustrative and do not constitute an endorsement or any other form of value judgement. Our aim is to continually update this page with relevant and applicable comparisons. We are always open to feedback, comments and suggestions for new comparisons or reliable data sources If you would like to suggest how we could improve the index, please feel free to contact us.

Comparison of our electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emission estimates

Before comparing Bitcoin's GHG emissions with other industries, activities or countries, we first describe how this estimate compares with our estimate of Bitcoin's electricity consumption. The boxes below show Bitcoin's global ranking for electricity consumption (left) and greenhouse gas emissions (right). This comparison illustrates the importance of distinguishing between electricity consumption and environmental footprint. While Bitcoin's electricity consumption may be similar to that of larger nations, it does not necessarily mean that their environmental footprints are comparable. While electricity consumption contributes only part of a country's total GHG emissions, it is responsible for most of the emissions related to Bitcoin. 

Total Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In this section, we compare our annualised Bitcoin GHG emissions estimate to global GHG emissions. Since the number of suitable comparisons with qualitatively similar activities is limited, we have had to use activities that have less – or indeed very little – in common with Bitcoin, except that they are also a source of emissions. These comparisons should thus be considered quantitative rather than qualitative. 

Source: Climate Watch Historical GHG Emissions. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. 2021 (PIK) est.

Industrial & Other activities

To provide some context, we compared Bitcoin's estimated annualised GHG emissions to those from other industry sectors and activities.

Bitcoin’s closest and most referenced real-world analogue is gold. While they arguably share utilitarian similarities as stores of value, gold and Bitcoin also demonstrate common consumptive traits, (e.g. a relationship between changes in unit price and resulting changes in resource consumption). 

Source: Mulligan, J., & Heymann, T., Gold and Climate change: Current and future impacts. London World Gold Council. (2019). Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, 2018 est.

As the set of suitable comparisons with qualitatively similar activities is very limited, we now turn to other uses that have little in common with Bitcoin other than also being a source of emissions. These comparisons should thus be considered from a quantitative rather than qualitative viewpoint. We distinguish between recreational consumption domains, industries or activities providing commonly used products or services, and fugitive and waste-related emissions.

Country comparisons

Country comparisons are, for better or for worse, the most common type of comparison. They are frequently used in public debates but should be treated with caution. The size of a country, both in geographical and population terms, does not always correlate with its emissions. Instead, a country’s emissions are a unique product of multiple factors: the environmental awareness of its residents, main industry sectors, level of economic and social development, availability of various energy sources, economic spending and production patterns, strategic policy actions to attract or outsource emission-intensive industries, and many more. Therefore, when comparing the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining or any other activity to that of a country, those factors should be considered to provide a more accurate view. But even then, the appropriateness of direct comparison is questionable. 

Source: Climate Watch Historical GHG Emissions. 2022. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. 2019 est.

Country ranking

The chart below shows how Bitcoin-related GHG emissions compare to those of the thirty largest emitting countries. In addition, it also displays the countries with similar GHG emissions to Bitcoin. 

Source: Climate Watch Historical GHG Emissions. 2022. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. 2019 est.