UN Study Warns About Bitcoin’s Environmental Footprint
A recent United Nations-linked study disclosed significant environmental concerns surrounding Bitcoin's impact.
The report, a collaboration between the United Nations University and Earth’s Future, highlighted the adverse effects stemming from Bitcoin mining activities. The energy-intensive process has led to substantial ecological repercussions affecting climate, water resources, and land.
Examining 76 Bitcoin mining nations from 2020 to 2021, the study revealed staggering statistics. The collective global energy consumption of the Bitcoin network during this period totaled 173.42 Terawatt hours, ranking it as a major energy consumer. This consumption resulted in a large carbon footprint, equivalent to burning 84 billion pounds of coal or operating 190 natural gas-fired power plants.
The study emphasized the heavy reliance on fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining, with coal contributing 45% and natural gas 21% to the energy mix. Although renewable sources like hydropower contributed 16% to the electricity supply, they also had a notable environmental impact. Other sources like nuclear, solar, and wind energy accounted for smaller percentages.
Furthermore, Bitcoin mining’s environmental impact was illustrated by its substantial water and land footprints. Despite the concerns, researchers stressed the need for regulatory measures and technological advancements to mitigate the environmental strain while encouraging the use of digital assets.
The leading Bitcoin mining nations listed in the report were China, the United States, Kazakhstan, Russia, Malaysia, Canada, Germany, Iran, Ireland, and Singapore.
In response, the UN-backed scientists proposed measures for governments to monitor and reduce the ecological impact of cryptocurrencies, recommending investment in more energy-efficient digital currencies.