UN Study Highlights Concerns Over Bitcoin’s Environmental Impact
A recent study linked to the United Nations has raised significant concerns about the environmental footprint of Bitcoin. The study, conducted in collaboration between the United Nations University and Earth’s Future, has shed light on the adverse effects caused by Bitcoin mining activities, which have had a substantial impact on climate, water resources, and land.
Examining data from 76 Bitcoin mining nations between 2020 and 2021, the study revealed alarming statistics. The total energy consumption of the Bitcoin network during this period amounted to 173.42 Terawatt hours, making it a major energy consumer. This consumption has resulted in a large carbon footprint, equivalent to burning 84 billion pounds of coal or operating 190 natural gas-fired power plants.
The study also highlighted 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 accounted for 16% of the electricity supply, they too had a notable environmental impact. Other sources such as nuclear, solar, and wind energy made up smaller proportions.
In addition to its energy consumption, Bitcoin mining has significant water and land footprints. Despite these concerns, the study emphasizes the need for regulatory measures and technological advancements to mitigate the environmental strain while promoting the use of digital assets.
The leading Bitcoin mining nations identified in the report include China, the United States, Kazakhstan, Russia, Malaysia, Canada, Germany, Iran, Ireland, and Singapore.
In response to the findings, the UN-backed scientists have proposed measures for governments to monitor and reduce the ecological impact of cryptocurrencies, suggesting investments in more energy-efficient digital currencies.