Environmental groups have intensified pressure on Bitcoin to follow Ethereum’s move to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism.

The blockchain behind the world’s second largest cryptocurrency cut its climate pollution by more than 99% in one fell swoop yesterday by changing its validation method for new blocks.

The Merge saw the blockchain network move from an energy-guzzling proof-of-work system – where mining rigs solving complex mathematical problems validate blockchains, as also seen with Bitcoin – to proof-of-stake.

Merging the Ethereum mainnet with the proof-of-stake beacon chain has made the network immediately faster and more scalable, as well as almost 100% more energy-efficient.

Ecosystem participants can ‘stake’ ETH – the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency – to become the new validators of the network. Users able to stake 32 ETH are eligible and are assigned to produce blocks at random. Users can also pool ETH for staking.

A ‘Change the Code, Not the Climate’ campaign will intensify its efforts with $1 million in new online advertisements, while Greenpeace launched a petition calling on Fidelity Investments to push Bitcoin to follow Ethereum’s lead in switching to an energy-saving protocol.

“With fires raging around the world and historic floods destroying lives and livelihoods, state and federal leaders and corporate executives are racing to decarbonize as quickly as possible,” said Michael Brune, director of the campaign.

“Ethereum has shown it’s possible to switch to an energy-efficient protocol with far less climate, air and water pollution. Other cryptocurrency protocols have operated on efficient consensus mechanisms for years. 

“Bitcoin has become the outlier, defiantly refusing to accept its climate responsibility.”

In Crypto: The Ethereum Merge is here – what will happen?

The campaign launched in March to advocate for a Bitcoin code change that would throttle back the enormous electricity consumption of its miners. It claimed that ratepayers were subsidising miners to pause operations to prevent grid blackouts.

The landscape is now shifting, with campaign representatives said to be in active discussions with key members of Congress and the Biden administration. 

Lawmakers are considering legislation, including mining moratoriums, that would increase transparency about mining operation locations, sources of energy used, and emissions for each operation. President Biden signed an executive order in March that highlighted the connection between cryptocurrency mining and the climate crisis. 

The campaign is urging the biggest corporate partners and institutional investors – Fidelity Investments, PayPal and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s Block, among others – to push Bitcoin to move to PoS.

“Ethereum has proven it’s possible to take the leap and change its protocol to a less electricity-intensive method by switching to proof of stake and dramatically lowering its energy use and the greenhouse gas pollution associated with dirty protocols like proof of work,” said Ken Cook, president, Environmental Working Group. 

“It’s time Bitcoin and its biggest investors take similar steps to reduce its heavy reliance on dirty electric grids and cheap fossil fuel energy sources – or risk being the cryptocurrency of the past.”

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Cryptocurrency shorts

Yuga Labs is reportedly aiming to raise $50m with a new Mecha Apes collection before the end of the year. The Bored Apes creator also plans to sell another 100,000 metaverse land plots after making $600m in May by selling all 100,000 plots of its Metaverse Otherdeeds. Each plot was sold at $6,000, but the floor price has plummeted to $2,700 today.

Epic Games’s marketplace has listed its first non-fungible token Web3 title, Blankos Block Party from Mythical Games. The free-to-play multiplayer party game centres around unique NFT toys called Blankos, which can be bought, upgraded and sold within the game.

Cryptocurrency startup Portofino Technologies has launched its high-frequency trading platform for digital assets and secured $50 million in equity funding from Valar Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Coatue. 

NFT digital art marketplace Exchange Art has secured £2.8m funding from backers including Cultur3, Big Brain Holdings, Layer One and Vandelay. 

Blockchain firm Cryptyde has signed a $93m deal to acquire FinTech company Forever 8 Fund.

FaZe Clan, a lifestyle and media platform, has bought a 12X12 digital plot of land in The Sandbox to develop a ‘FaZe World’ virtual hub.

Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission has banned cryptocurrency staking and lending services.

Crypto prices

The overall market cap of the almost 21,000 coins is at $963 billion at the time of writing (7am UK), a 2.8% decrease in the last 24 hours.

Ethereum dropped 9% to below $1,500 following the Merge to PoS.

For round-ups of recent cryptocurrency news developments, click here.

For valuations of the top 100 coins by market cap in US dollars, plus 24-hour price change, see below.