At a time when the Bitcoin network (BTC) has come under fire for its high energy consumption and emissions, a new study intends to put an exact figure on its impact. According to the study, in the worst case scenario, BTC would account for only 0.9% of all emissions in 2030.
Bitcoin’s carbon emissions in 2030
In 2021, it’s hard to talk about Bitcoin, ecology and carbon emissions in the same sentence without sparking passionate and sometimes heated debate. What we do know is that the payment network consumes significant electricity resources, and if its price continues to explode, one wonders if consumption and emissions will also explode.
This is the question that a recently published study by the New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) attempted to answer. To do so, it developed several scenarios, from the most “aggressive” to the most reasonable. With in particular the case where Bitcoin would explode during the decade, with a price that would reach almost 500,000 dollars, and a capitalization of 10 trillion dollars :
“Even with our most aggressive scenario, with the highest price, […] [Bitcoin’s] carbon emissions would be only 0.9 percent of the world’s, and its energy spending would be only 0.4 percent of total global spending.”
A network that will decarbonize?
The study notes that this scenario is based on the assumption that energy supplies will not change. However, it is more than likely that the energy sources used by miners will continue to “green” over the decade:
“These figures were calculated without taking into account the observable acceleration in the use of carbon offsets, renewable energy/certificates and energy recovery.”
Currently, Bitcoin consumes more electricity than the Philippines or Kazakhstan. But the emissions from BTC mining are less than gold mining… Or the emissions from the refrigerators of US residents.
Without getting into further debate, however, it’s safe to predict that carbon emissions from the Bitcoin network will go down:
“Over the long term, Bitcoin’s carbon emissions intensity […] will decline, as the development of renewable energy continues, and as countries try to decarbonize their power grids.”