- Even if bitcoin hit $10 trillion by 2030, its emissions would still only account for less than 0.9% of the global total, an NYDIG report said.
- Bitcoin mining currently produces fewer carbon emissions than aviation or air conditioning, the report said.
- Back in 2019, bitcoin already used as much energy as the Philippines, according to Cambridge University data.
Bitcoin mining will only contribute to 0.9% of global carbon emissions even if the coin's price were to hit a mind-boggling $10 trillion by 2030, according to a report by crypto technology company New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) earlier this week.
Bitcoin's emissions are mostly driven by the carbon intensity of the energy sources and consumption of the miners that scour the network. Bitcoin creation depends upon a "proof of work" system, where miners compete to assemble transactions on the blockchain and this requires vast amounts of power, much of it currently derived from fossil fuels.
In the past, bitcoin has faced a lot of criticism because of its energy consumption. Already in 2019, bitcoin already used as much energy as the Philippines, according to Cambridge University data . Elon Musk said on Twitter back in May that his Tesla electric vehicle maker would no longer accept any payment in bitcoin over concerns that its fossil fuel use was rapidly increasing.
However, the NYDIG report showed the situation is not quite as dire as many might fear.
"Bitcoin's absolute electricity consumption and carbon emissions are not significant in global terms," NYDIG said in its report.
Bitcoin mining only represents 0.1% of global carbon emissions right now, which was 33 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (MtCO2) in 2020, less than what aviation or air conditioning produces, the report said. After the Chinese crackdown on mining, bitcoin mining fell from consuming 92 terawatt hours (TWh) in March this year, to just 49 TWh by July, the report showed.
NYDIG said it had calculated the future energy consumption of bitcoin miners based on price trajectory, miners' energy mixes, activity, locations, economics, power prices and transaction fee volumes.
Prior to China's crackdown, most of the world's bitcoin miners were located there. But many have since relocated to countries that offer more environmentally friendly power sources, such as Iran or the United States.
"Over the longer term, the intensity of bitcoin's carbon emissions (and with it bitcoin's absolute carbon emissions) will decline, as the development of renewables continues and countries strive to decarbonize their electricity grids," the report said.