The bitcoin industry is threatening China‘s climate goals, according to a study published by the scientific journal Nature. The trade in bitcoins is energy intensive and almost 80 percent of all so-called “bitcoin mines” in the world are located in China, which leads to a lot of CO2 emissions.
A bitcoin mine is not a hole in the ground like a classic mine. The term refers to a site where numerous computers are set up that make mathematical calculations on which the network of the crypto coins is based. These servers consume a lot of energy. In China, they are often set up in rural areas, where electricity is cheap, but often from polluting sources such as coal.
The energy consumption of the Chinese bitcoin industry was already higher than that of the Czech Republic or Qatar five years ago, according to the study in Nature. By 2024, this would even be good for an energy consumption equal to that of Italy or Saudi Arabia, good for twelfth place worldwide. The greenhouse gas emissions of the Chinese bitcoin industry would then amount to 130.5 million tons.
Climate neutral by 2060?
This threatens the country’s climate goals. China wants to reach its peak in CO2 emissions by 2030 and become ‘climate neutral’ by 2060. But bitcoin mines are a major problem here, said Wang Shouyang, one of the study’s co-authors.
The focus on renewable energy will be crucial, even in areas that are currently still highly dependent on cheap coal. A carbon tax is another possibility, but given the enormous profits that can be made from the bitcoin trade, it is unlikely to have a deterrent effect for the ‘miners’, it sounds.
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