Top Line

According to a new study, the environmental cost of producing bitcoin places digital assets with some of the most environmentally friendly industries in the world. study published in scientific report On Thursday, amid growing scrutiny over the region’s environmental footprint and debate over the sustainable future of cryptocurrencies.

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According to the researchers’ estimates, which were based on the economic cost of carbon dioxide emissions, the climate-related damage to each bitcoin generated in 2021 — an asset “mined” using an energy-intensive computer process — was more than $11,300.

The researchers estimate that between 2016 and 2021, the average climate loss for each bitcoin mined was 35% of its market cap, rising to around 60% between 2020 and 2021.

Researchers said the numbers place bitcoin, often described as “digital gold,” closer to eco-friendly industries such as beef production (33%), producing gasoline from crude oil (41%). and uses natural gas to generate electricity (46%).

From the perspective of climate damage, the researchers said that bitcoin is more “digital crude” than gold, which costs only 4% of the climate.

Overall, bitcoin’s global climate damage is estimated at $12 billion between 2016 and 2021, the researchers said, and carbon emissions increased 126-fold over that time.

main background

The environmental cost of cryptocurrencies, of which bitcoin is by far the largest, has become a pivotal point in plotting the future of the sector. In 2021, researchers estimated that bitcoin mining uses more energy than countries such as Austria or Portugal. Sustainability has become a target for regulators around the world and China, which previously dominated the sector, devastated miners in 2021 when it cracked down on the industry, at least partially for environmental reasons. There are more efficient options available for creating and using cryptocurrencies. Ethereum, the blockchain underpinning vast areas of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, recently switched to this more sustainable system, a massive undertaking known as a “merge.” It is possible that the bitcoin ecosystem may undergo a similar change in the future and others are trying to make the industry cleaner by using green energy.

Ethereum 'Merge': Here's What to Know About the Hot-Expected Upgrade That's Turning Crypto Player Green (Forbes)

'Green bitcoin mining': big profits in clean crypto (Forbes)