Latest research on consumption of electricity by Bitcoin mining has shown that the release of carbon emissions last year was equal to the carbon emissions produced by the European country of Estonia. These findings show that growing rate of digital currency isn’t as impactful on climate change as assumed before.
Previously, it was expected that the carbon emissions released from computing power utilized to solve Bitcoin’s mathematical problems in order to generate more currencies might add up to 63 megatonnes units of CO2 annually. It was even claimed by some researchers that with the growing popularity of cryptocurrency, global climate goals might become harder to achieve.
Researchers at Aalbord University in Denmark, Susanne Kohler and Massimo Pizzol, discovered that the estimations made earlier had assumed that carbon emissions generated from electricity were consistent across China, in which it is expected that half of the global Bitcoin (TC) mining activities take place. However, further analysis after breaking down the carbon emissions to regional levels in the country showed a much lower carbon footprint of cryptocurrency mining, almost 17.29 megatonnes units of CO2 was produced last year.
The study also showed that the electricity used in Bitcoin mining contributes largely to the digital currency’s carbon emissions and not just the production and use of computers conducting the mining, which merely accounts for approximately 1% of the carbon emissions.
Kohler further stated that the newer published research doesn’t mean that we don’t have to worry about Bitcoin mining emissions, especially considering that the electricity use of crypto mining is increasing, but that there should be a clear perspective about it. She said that on one side there are alarming warnings that Bitcoin mining will prevent us from reaching the goals of the Paris agreement and on the other side there is a broad crypto community claiming that mining does not cause as high of an impact.
Both Kohler and Pizzol stated that accurate information about Bitcoin’s mining locations will help in understanding Bitcoin’s carbon emission footprint, but the data is rare to find. Camilo Mora from the University of Hawaii stated that the results of the research prove a need for transparency regarding Bitcoin mining sites and the equipment’s utilized in the process.
Even though new statistics about cryptocurrency’s impact on climate change through mining is smaller, they should not be ignored. This can be important especially because several countries, including China, have started considering imposing regulations on cryptocurrency mining activity due to its high electricity consumption.
This is not the first research concluding that cryptocurrency mining is far less harmful to the environment than previously anticipated. Preceded it studies that allege Bitcoin mining can actually be environmentally friendly and another one concluding that 74% of all Bitcoin mining is powered by renewable energy.