A new campaign has been launched to encourage more eco-friendly forms of cryptocurrency. 

Bitcoin requires enormous amounts of energy to power its mining process, burning through 91 terawatt-hours of electricity annually - more energy than many small countries. 

Much of this energy is consumed as part of Botcoin’s “proof of work” processes. This process is intentionally energy-heavy in order to deter frivolous or malicious users, and is designed to create scarcity by becoming more difficult as each coin is mined. 

Some new coins are using “proof of stake” authentication as an alternative to proof of work. Some proof of stake systems can cut energy consumption by as much as 99 per cent.

Ethereum has reportedly switched to proof of stake and considerably reduced its energy output.

A new campaign has been launched by crypto-billionaire Chris Larsen and several climate activist groups including Greenpeace and Environmental Working Group, dubbed “Change the Code, Not the Climate”. The campaign is pushing for bitcoin to move to a proof of stake system - a major change to Bitcoin’s coding. 

Michael Brune, campaign director and former executive director of Sierra Club, says the futuristic currency risks dragging the world backwards. 

“Coal plants which were dormant or slated to be closed are now being revived and solely dedicated to bitcoin mining. Gas plants, which in many cases were increasingly economically uncompetitive, are also now being dedicated to bitcoin mining. We are seeing this all across the country,” Mr Brune has told The Guardian.

“It’s particularly painful to see this in the electric sector because that is precisely the place where the US has made most of its progress in the last decade,” he said. 

“There’s no way we can reach our climate goals if we are reviving fossil fuel plants.

“We are in this campaign for the long haul, but we are hoping – particularly since bitcoin is now being financed by entities and individuals who care about climate change – that we can compel leadership to agree that this is a problem that needs to be addressed.

“Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, PayPal, Venmo, Fidelity — there are lots of companies we anticipate will be helpful to this effort.”