Article
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

In the Spring of 2021, the mining crackdown in China shook up global Bitcoin mining activity. We show that this crackdown may have reduced the use of renewable electricity sources for Bitcoin Mining, resulting in increased carbon intensity of mining activities. We estimate that Bitcoin mining may be responsible for 65.4 MtCO2 annually, which is comparable to country-level emissions in Greece.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Which is nearly closer to emission factors presented in de Vries, et. al, [4] . To construct the bitcoin carbon footprint, the following assumptions corresponding to the outlined emission factors are made: ...
... However, caution should be taken in using the bitcoin emission dataset, as the global emission factors are static, yet, emission factor differs across countries. For example, the emission factor for coalbased electricity for Bitcoin miners is ∼50% higher than the global average [4] . ...
Article
Full-text available
Due to data limitations on bitcoin-related emissions, assessing the environmental impacts of bitcoin appear difficult. This data in brief article presents constructed daily frequency dataset on bitcoin annualised carbon footprint spanning July 7, 2010 to December 4, 2021 with 4,158 observations. The 12 data variables capture floor, ceiling, and optimal annualised carbon footprint from coal, oil, gas, and the average from the 3 sources. The constructed bitcoin carbon footprint data are measured in kgCO2 using emission factors for electricity generation from IEA World Energy Outlook. The data will benefit multidisciplinary research on cryptocurrency from environmental, energy, and economics disciplines.
... Rising prices of the cryptocurrency, in turn, encourage investments in more computational power, which drives up the puzzle's difficulty and leads to higher energy demand and carbon emissions. 1,2,8 This interdependence means that, for instance, in March 2022, Bitcoin has consumed as much electricity as countries like Poland or South Africa. 9 It also means that more energy-efficient hardware will not reduce the energy consumption of PoW blockchains in the long run. ...
Article
Current debates on the sustainability of blockchain technology primarily focus on proof of work (PoW) cryptocurrencies. This narrow focus leads to one-sided discussions that emphasize the poor sustainability of blockchain technology. What these discussions neglect is that non-PoW blockchains have much lower energy needs. Current debates also turn a blind eye to the fact that certain blockchain applications could contribute to sustainability. We thus argue for a broader sustainability debate that is both more differentiated and balanced.
... In this regard, Bitcoin can be seen as the ultimate menace to existing power structures since it threatens to interfere with national monetary autonomy by limiting the power of central and commercial banks [32]. Consequently, there is no shortage of sharp criticism, mostly pertaining to its lack of intrinsic value [33], environmental damage [34], or its potential use as a tool for terrorism financing [35]. In this regard, the website 99bitcoins has collected 447 so-called Bitcoin obituaries, statements that Bitcoin is or will be worthless by persons with a notable following. ...
Article
Full-text available
The disruptive impact of blockchain technologies can be felt across numerous industries as it threatens to disrupt existing business models and economic structures. To better understand this impact, academic researchers regularly apply well-established theories and methods. The vast majority of these approaches are based on multivariate methods that rely on average behavior and treat extreme cases as outliers. However, as recent history has shown, current developments in blockchain and cryptocurrencies are frequently characterized by aberrant behavior and unexpected events that shape individuals’ perceptions, market behavior, and public policymaking. In this paper, I apply various scenario tools to identify such extreme scenarios and illustrate their underlying structure as bundles of interdependent factors. Using the case of Bitcoin, I illustrate that the identification of extreme positive and negative scenarios is complex and heavily depends on underlying economic assumptions. I present three scenarios in which Bitcoin is characterized as a financial savior, as a severe threat to economic stability, or as a substitute to overcome several shortcomings of the existing financial system. The research questions that can be derived from these scenarios bridge behavioral and design science research and provide a fertile ground for impactful future research.
Conference Paper
This work investigates the factors determining the Kazakh energy crisis which occurred in the second half of 2021. From the correlation observed among some data gathered to the purpose of the analysis, the relevant role played in this by cryptocurrency mining factories is identified. Beginning from June 2021, a massive number of them were relocated to Kazakhstan from the Popular Republic of China (PRC) because of normative restrictions introduced by the latter. The work also develops a reflection aimed at understanding the economic and environmental impact which has been produced by this relocation. The descriptive analysis will proceed as follows: the first section of the article will focus on the regulation of cryptocurrencies; the second section will focus on final electricity consumption and sup-porting empirical evidence and is closely related to the third and last section; the latter will focus on primary macro-economic indicators in relation to the increase in CO2 emissions in the Kazakh republic. To this end, it is useful to demonstrate a correlation between the energy crisis, the transfer of cryptocurrency mining to Kazakhstan, and to fuel the discussion regarding the need for a supranational institution with the aim of codifying a common international legislation, thus reinforcing the efforts made so far in this direction. Present and future implications and scenarios de-rived by the analysis are also introduced.
Article
Full-text available
Global greenhouse gas emissions need to reach net-zero around mid-century to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. This decarbonization challenge has, inter alia, increased the political and societal pressure on companies to disclose their carbon footprints. As a response, numerous companies announced roadmaps to become carbon neutral or even negative. The first step on the journey towards carbon neutrality, however, is to quantify corporate emissions accurately. Current carbon accounting and reporting practices remain unsystematic and not comparable, particularly for emissions along the value chain (so-called scope 3). Here we present a framework to harmonize scope 3 emissions by accounting for reporting inconsistency, boundary incompleteness, and activity exclusion. In a case study of the tech sector, we find that corporate reports omit half of the total emissions. The framework we present may help companies, investors, and policy makers to identify and close the gaps in corporate carbon footprints.
Article
Bitcoin’s increasing energy consumption has triggered a passionate debate about the sustainability of the digital currency. And yet, most studies have thus far ignored that Bitcoin miners cycle through a growing amount of short-lived hardware that could exacerbate the growth in global electronic waste. E-waste represents a growing threat to our environment, from toxic chemicals and heavy metals leaching into soils, to air and water pollutions caused by improper recycling. Here we present a methodology to estimate Bitcoin’s e-waste and find that it adds up to 30.7 metric kilotons per annum, per May 2021. This number is comparable to the amount of small IT and telecommunication equipment waste produced by a country like the Netherlands. At peak Bitcoin price levels seen early in 2021, the annual amount of e-waste may grow beyond 64.4 metric kilotons in the midterm, which highlights the dynamic trend if the Bitcoin price rises further. Moreover, the demand for mining hardware already today disrupts the global semiconductor supply chain. The strategies we present may help to mitigate Bitcoin’s growing e-waste problem.
Article
The digital currency Bitcoin is known for its energy hunger and associated carbon footprint. Investors, how-ever, must not neglect further environmental, social, and governance issues related to digital currencies. Therefore, we urge the adoption of a more comprehensive view in assessing the externalities of investments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Article
Ulrich Gallersdörfer is a research associate in the Department of Informatics at the Technical University of Munich. His research focuses on identity management in blockchains. His interest extends to further aspects of the technology, ranging from environmental implications to data analytics applications. Lena Klaaßen is a graduate student at TUM School of Management at the Technical University of Munich. She is specialized in energy markets and accounting. Her research focuses on carbon accounting in the corporate and cryptocurrency space. She has previously analyzed blockchain-related firms for a venture capital fund. Christian Stoll conducts research at the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the Center for Energy Markets of the Technical University of Munich. His research focuses on the implications of climate change from an economic point of view.
Article
Participation in the Bitcoin blockchain validation process requires specialized hardware and vast amounts of electricity, which translates into a significant carbon footprint. Here, we demonstrate a methodology for estimating the power consumption associated with Bitcoin’s blockchain based on IPO filings of major hardware manufacturers, insights on mining facility operations, and mining pool compositions. We then translate our power consumption estimate into carbon emissions, using the localization of IP addresses. We determine the annual electricity consumption of Bitcoin, as of November 2018, to be 45.8 TWh and estimate that annual carbon emissions range from 22.0 to 22.9 MtCO2. This means that the emissions produced by Bitcoin sit between the levels produced by the nations of Jordan and Sri Lanka, which is comparable to the level of Kansas City. With this article, we aim to gauge the external costs of Bitcoin and inform the broader debate on the costs and benefits of cryptocurrencies.
China's crypto miners make hard choices to meet climate goals
  • K Le
Le, K. (2021). China's crypto miners make hard choices to meet climate goals. https://forkast.news/chinas-crypto-minersclimate/.
Latest data shows the US now leads with 35% of Bitcoin's hash rate
  • W Zhao
Zhao, W. (2022). Latest data shows the US now leads with 35% of Bitcoin's hash rate. https://www.theblockcrypto.com/post/ 120372/us-lead-bitcoin-hash-ratecambridge.
New York and Texas are winning the war to attract bitcoin miners
  • M Sigalos
Sigalos, M. (2021). New York and Texas are winning the war to attract bitcoin miners. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/09/war-toattract-bitcoin-miners-pits-texas-againstnew-york-kentucky.html.
Kazakhstan's deadly protests hit bitcoin, as the world's secondbiggest mining hub shuts down
  • M Sigalos
Sigalos, M. (2022). Kazakhstan's deadly protests hit bitcoin, as the world's secondbiggest mining hub shuts down. https:// www.cnbc.com/2022/01/06/kazakhstanbitcoin-mining-shuts-down-amid-fatalprotests.html.
Surging electricity demand is putting power systems under strain around the world
IEA (2022). Surging electricity demand is putting power systems under strain around the world. https://www.iea.org/news/ surging-electricity-demand-is-puttingpower-systems-under-strain-around-theworld.
Bitcoin-mining power plant raises ire of environmentalists
  • M Hall
Hall, M. (2021). Bitcoin-mining power plant raises ire of environmentalists. https:// abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/bitcoinmining-power-plant-raises-ireenvironmentalists-80618790.
KY lawmakers want tax breaks for cryptocurrency mining
  • J Cheves
Cheves, J. (2021). KY lawmakers want tax breaks for cryptocurrency mining. But will this create jobs?. https://www.kentucky. com/news/politics-government/ article249485805.html.
New IPO demonstrates why Bitcoin mining is the most stupendously profitable business on the planet right now
  • S Tully
Tully, S. (2021). New IPO demonstrates why Bitcoin mining is the most stupendously profitable business on the planet right now. https://fortune.com/2021/10/20/new-ipodemonstrates-why-bitcoin-mining-is-themost-stupendously-profitable-business-onthe-planet-right-now/.
Crypto-assets are a threat to the climate transition -energyintensive mining should be banned
  • Finansinspektionen
Finansinspektionen (2021). Crypto-assets are a threat to the climate transition -energyintensive mining should be banned. https:// www.fi.se/en/published/presentations/ 2021/crypto-assets-are-a-threat-to-theclimate-transition-energy-intensive-miningshould-be-banned/.