The growing demand for Bitcoin could frustrate efforts to curb global climate warming, as production of the increasingly popular digital currency requires a huge amount of energy, according to the scientists. The production of Bitcoin in relation of growing demand by 2033 may frustrate efforts to curb climate warming by up to 2 degrees Celsius.
Nearly 200 countries joined the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to make efforts to curb climate change and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial era.
The mining of Bitcoin, the most famous crypto-currency, is extremely high energy consuming. Nowadays, emissions from transport, households and food are pointed as the main causes of climate change, but in the future the Bitcoin mining and transaction will be the main threat for the environment.
“This research illustrates that bitcoin should be added to this list”, said Katie Taladay, who is part of the group of scientist, conducting the study.
Bitcoins are “mined” in a process that is computationally demanding, with heavy hardware requirements, but the elusive nature of this process means that determining its carbon footprint can prove complicated. To work it out, the scientists analysed the power efficiency of computers used in bitcoin mining, the location of miners around the world and the CO2 emissions from electricity in those countries.
Bitcoin mining is a profitable business.
In 2017, the mining and use of Bitcoins earmarked 69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
With the growth of the popularity of this digital currency, electricity can be used to produce about 230 gigatons of carbon dioxide per decade and a half.
The report’s authors warned that to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, such as coral reef extinction and Arctic ice disappearance, warming must be limited to 1.5C.