New Study Claims China Ban Has Worsened Bitcoin’s Carbon Emissions

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In Brief
  • New research says China’s ban has led to an increase in Bitcoin’s carbon footprint.

  • Bitcoin miners in Kazakhstan rely on energy generated by fossil fuels.

  • Crypto community disagrees, says the industry uses over 58% renewable energy to mine the digital asset.

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The Trust Project is an international consortium of news organizations building standards of transparency.

One of the most over-flogged issues within the crypto space is the issue of carbon emission associated with Bitcoin mining. 

Before now, Bitcoin miners were mostly concentrated in China. Mining activities thrived in the country for several years, although the government had banned all forms of crypto-related activities such as trading as far back as 2017. 

However, this changed last year as the government issued another blanket ban on the industry and forced several crypto exchanges and mining firms to close shops and move to new places.

The decision of the country’s State Council to clamp down on the industry followed a pledge made by the President, Xi Jinping, to achieve carbon neutrality in the next four decades. 

However, new research published in the Joule journal about mining cryptocurrency has revealed that this ban did not succeed in reducing the carbon emissions associated with this process.

According to the researchers who worked on the study, China’s crackdown on the Bitcoin mining industry has increased the asset’s carbon emissions because while leaving the country; miners also left behind access to eco-friendly hydropower. 

The implication is that they are now increasingly relying on energy generated by fossil fuels.

To be precise, the study indicated that the amount of renewable energy used to power mining operations has fallen from almost 42% to around 25% since last August.

The study continued that Bitcoin produces more than 65 megatons of carbon dioxide annually. This amount of emission exceeds that of a country like Greece, which registered around 57 megatons in 2019.

One of the authors of the research, Alex de Vries, elaborated that the relocation of mining companies to countries like the United States and Kazakhstan has reduced the use of renewable energy sources. 

In Kazakhstan, for example, miners depend mostly on electricity generated through power stations that burn “hard coal,” this causes more pollution than what the miners would have used if they still had access to their wet farms in China.

As it stands, Bitcoin mining is now less friendly to the environment, as its carbon intensity has increased by 17%.

This report contradicts various other pro-crypto reports on the state of Bitcoin mining. Per Bitcoin Mining council report, the industry uses over 58% renewable energy to mine the digital asset.

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Oluwapelumi believes Bitcoin and blockchain technology have the potential to change the world for the better. He is an avid reader and began writing about crypto in 2020.

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