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Bitcoin's Carbon Emission Comparable To Levels Produced By Some Countries: Study

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The annual carbon emission generated by Bitcoin is comparable to the levels generated by countries such as Jordan and Sri Lanka, which is comparable to the level of Kansas City, the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri, according to a study published in the Joule journal.

The study was aimed at gauging the external costs related to Bitcoin and to provide information on the costs and benefits of cryptocurrencies.

It was found that the annual electricity consumption of Bitcoin, as of November 2018, was 45.8 Terawatt-hour or TWh. This converts to an estimated annual carbon emission in the range of 22.0 to 22.9 Metric tons of carbon dioxide or MtCO2.

According to the study, the Bitcoin blockchain validation process requires specialized hardware and uses up large amounts of electricity, which translates into a significant carbon footprint.

The methodology used for the study to estimate the power consumption associated with Bitcoin's blockchain was based on disclosures in IPO filings of major mining hardware producers such as Bitmain, Canaan, and Ebang in 2018, insights on mining facility operations, and mining pool compositions.

The findings of the study could be used by global policy-makers to understand the carbon footprint of cryptocurrencies and to take the right measures to tackle it as the adoption journey of blockchain technology has just started. Bitcoin's carbon footprint underlines the need to tackle the environmental externalities that result from cryptocurrencies.

Although not all blockchain protocols are as energy intensive as Bitcoin's protocol, the environmental risks must not be ignored in the debate on anticipated benefits of the technology.

Bitcoin's carbon footprint found underlines the need to tackle the environmental externalities that result from cryptocurrencies. However, the study reveals that cryptocurrencies cause only a relatively small fraction of global emissions.

In order to keep global warming below 2°C, as internationally agreed in Paris COP21, net-zero carbon emissions during the second half of the century is crucial.

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