Climate impact of Bitcoin mining in China remains high

China under the radar again! While Peter Thiel chewed no words in warning against, what he believed, is a great game by the Asian giant, the country has come under the scanner from a different side regarding Bitcoin.

The environmental side.

A new study, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, claims that close to 40% of Bitcoin mines in China are powered by coal. Combined, they will produce around 130.5 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2024.

This puts China’s mining empire at odds with the country’s pledge to minimize emissions.  These power-hungry Bitcoin miners could undermine the country’s pledge to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and eventually go carbon neutral by 2060.

Researchers from Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences say that:

“By investigating carbon emission flows of bitcoin blockchain operation in China with a simulation-based bitcoin blockchain carbon emission model, we find that without any policy interventions, the annual energy consumption of the bitcoin blockchain in China is expected to peak in 2024 at 296.59 TWh and generate 130.5 million metric tons of carbon emission correspondingly.”

The study further claims that historically, from January 1, 2016 through June 10, 2018, up to 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were generated from Bitcoin mining alone.

As of April 2020, China accounted for 78.89% of the global blockchain operations. Should this trend continue, and it looks like it will, the emission output would exceed the total annual greenhouse gas emission output of Qatar and the Czech Republic.

What’s more, imposing carbon taxes alone is not enough to mitigate carbon emissions, the study says. It recommends that the Chinese government should shift the industry to renewable sources of energy.

The time to act, as they say, is now.


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