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CCAF releases update to Bitcoin emissions estimate

CCAF releases update to Bitcoin emissions estimate

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) has published an update to its Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index (CBECI) which provides estimates on Bitcoin greenhouse gas emissions.

The new tool provides daily estimates of the annualised and total greenhouse gas emissions related to Bitcoin.

When combined with previous findings, this new tool finds that approximately 199.65 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) can be attributed to the bitcoin network since its inception, with 92% of this occurring since 2018. CCAF reports that this level of greenhouse gas emissions is an estimated 0.10% of global emissions, and equivalent to the total emissions of Nepal (48.37 MtCO2e) or the Central African Republic (46.58 MtCO2e).

The CBECI was launched in July 2019 at the CCAF. A Mining Map was added to the Index in May 2020 to show the geographical distribution of the hashrate, showing that electricity consumption from Bitcoin was greater than that of some entire nations.

Alexander Neumueller, digital assets CBECI project lead at CCAF commented: “Environmentalists, financial institutions and policymakers are growing increasingly concerned about Bitcoin’s electricity consumption and its associated environmental repercussions.”

Additionally, the tool estimates that the share of sustainable energy sources used by Bitcoin miners is 37.6%, which is lower than industry estimates. This is in line with CCAF previous research showing renewable energy use in Bitcoin is not as prominent as claimed.

“A significant decrease in mining profitability led to a decline in electricity consumption despite substantial increases in hashrate,” Neumueller added. “Given the recent sharp decline in mining revenue per unit of computing power provided, a shift to more efficient hardware occurs, which leads to the, at least temporary, retirement of older, less efficient hardware.”

Finextra recently announced its fifth Sustainable Finance Live conference and hackathon, scheduled to take place on 29 November. For more information and to register for this event, please visit the event page here.

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