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Bitcoin's impact on climate change not as great as feared

Bitcoin's impact on climate change not as great as feared

Despite previous claims that the carbon footprint of bitcoin mining was on par with entire countries, a new study has shown that its impact is much smaller than was feared.

A study earlier this year by Cambridge University suggested that bitcoin consumed as much electricity as Switzerland, though this new research offers Estonia as a more accurate comparison.

Fears were voiced that bitcoin could solely prevent the world from meeting the targets on carbon emission as set out in the Paris Agreement.

Mining requires computers of extraordinary power to solve mathematical equations which are rewarded with a supply of bitcoin, currently 12.5 and set to half in May next year.

As reported by New Scientist, research by Susanne Köhler and Massimo Pizzol at Aalborg University in Denmark has found that prior estimates relied on the assumption that electricity usage from mining was uniform across China.

This presumed, for example, that emissions from coal-heavy Inner Mongolia were comparable to Sichuan where hydropower is prevalent.

The new study however breaks this down by region, and puts bitcoin's emissions at 17.29 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018, compared to the 63 megatonnes previously stated.

China is nonetheless shown to be the comfortably ahead of any other country in bitcoin carbon emissions, accounting for 47% of the world's total, with Russia, Canada and the US some way in its wake.

It remains to be seen if this will continue to be the case in light of the Chinese government's ban on bitcoin mining, backed up by tough talk from the People's Bank of China last week about bans on crypto exchanges and trading.

Speaking of their findings, Köhler and Pizzol say that accurately quantifying bitcoin's carbon footprint remains tricky without accurate data of where mining is taking place, the New Scientist has reported.

Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 28 November, 2019, 12:13Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

For 7 transactions per second, it is still a lot of energy.