Bitcoin mining emissions were on par with Estonia, suggesting that the climate change impact of the first digital asset is less than previously reported. Furthermore, the research seems to suggest that where Bitcoin is mined contributes to how much carbon Bitcoin emits. With so much of the mining being done in China, one might wonder if that country’s infrastructure is more to blame than Bitcoin.
Köhler and Pizzol instead broke emissions down within China to take into consideration regional levels of CO2 produced, as reported by The New Scientist. They came up with a lower carbon footprint for Bitcoin: 17.29 megatonnes of CO2 in 2018. The new numbers result from facts such as coal-heavy Inner Mongolia accounts for 12.3 percent of bitcoin mining, resulting in more than a quarter of the total emissions.
“On the one hand we have these alarmist voices saying we won’t hit the Paris agreement because of bitcoin only,” said Köhler. “But on the other hand there are a lot of voices from the bitcoin community saying that most of the mining is done with green energy and that it’s not high impact.”
Köhler and Pizzol say the affect of Bitcoin mining on the environment won’t truly be known until more accurate data on where it takes place is available.