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World Bitcoin could derail China's climate change targets

08:40  08 april  2021
08:40  08 april  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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Bitcoin mining in China is so carbon intensive that it could threaten the country's emissions reduction targets , according to new research. China wants its emissions to peak in 2030, and has plans to be carbon neutral by 2060. The cryptocurrency's carbon footprint is as large as one of China ' s ten largest cities, the study found. The study was written by academics from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, Cornell University and the University of Surrey. It was published by the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.

China powers nearly 80% of the global cryptocurrencies trade, but the energy required could jeopardise its pledge to peak carbon emissions by 2030. China ’ s electricity-hungry bitcoin mines that power nearly 80% of the global trade in cryptocurrencies risk undercutting the country’ s climate goals, a study in the journal Nature has said. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rely on “blockchain” technology, which is a shared database of transactions, with entries that must be confirmed and encrypted.

Bitcoin mining in China is so carbon intensive that it could threaten the country's emissions reduction targets, according to new research.

a store front at night © Getty Images

China wants its emissions to peak in 2030, and has plans to be carbon neutral by 2060.

The cryptocurrency's carbon footprint is as large as one of China's ten largest cities, the study found.

China accounts for more than 75% of bitcoin mining around the world, researchers said.

The study was written by academics from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, Cornell University and the University of Surrey. It was published by the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.

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The value of bitcoin has soared over the past year. ‘The carbon emissions of this emerging industry have a potential hindering effect on China ’ s climate neutrality targets ,’ head researcher says. Beijing has set a goal for its carbon emissions to peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

China ' s electricity-hungry bitcoin mines that power nearly 80 percent of the global trade in cryptocurrencies risk undercutting the country' s climate goals, a study in the journal Nature Communications said on Tuesday. "The intensive bitcoin blockchain operation in China can quickly grow as a threat that could potentially undermine the emission reduction effort," co-author Wang Shouyang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences told AFP. The government should focus on upgrading the power grid to ensure a stable supply from renewable sources, Wang said.

"Without appropriate interventions and feasible policies, the intensive bitcoin blockchain operation in China can quickly grow as a threat that could potentially undermine the emission reduction effort taken place in the country," it warned.

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Some rural areas in China are popular among Bitcoin miners, mainly due to the cheaper electricity prices and undeveloped land to house the servers.

Miners play a dual role, effectively auditing bitcoin transactions in exchange for the opportunity to acquire bitcoin.

The process requires enormous computing power, and in turn consumes huge amounts of energy.

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About 40 percent of China ' s bitcoin mines are powered with coal, while the rest use renewables. But the coal-guzzling rigs are so large they could end up undermining Beijing's pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060, a study has warned. China ' s electricity-hungry bitcoin mines that power nearly 80 percent of the global trade in cryptocurrencies risk is undercutting the country' s climate goals, a study in the journal Nature has said. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are minted by solving puzzles using powerful computers that consume enormous amounts of electricity, much of it produced by coal plants.

China ’ s electricity-hungry bitcoin mines that energy almost 80 % of the worldwide commerce in cryptocurrencies threat undercutting the nation’ s climate goals, a examine within the journal Nature Communications stated on Tuesday. But the coal-guzzling rigs are so massive they may find yourself undermining Beijing’s pledge to peak carbon emissions earlier than 2030 and turn into carbon impartial by 2060, it warned. “The intensive bitcoin blockchain operation in China can quickly grow as a threat that could potentially undermine the emission reduction effort,” co-author Wang Shouyang from the

Already, bitcoin-related emissions in China exceed the total emissions of the Czech Republic and Qatar in 2016.

By 2024, China's bitcoin operations will exceed the total energy consumption of Italy and Saudi Arabia, and would rank 12th among nations.

At its peak, it could account for about 5.41% of the china's electricity generation emissions.

The researchers said a carbon tax would be relatively ineffective for Bitcoin, and suggested "site regulation" policies instead.

'Chinese financial weapon'

The researchers said the "attractive financial incentive of bitcoin mining" has caused an arms race in dedicated mining hardware

The price of the cryptocurrency surged during the pandemic, rising from $7,000 last April to pass $60,000 in March before slipping slightly.

Bitcoin's price increase was pushed higher by well-known companies adopting it as a method of payment, including electric carmaker Tesla.

The Covid-19 pandemic also likely played a part, with more people shopping online and moving further away from physical currencies.

Critics have long charged that in addition to its environmental impact, it's main use is as financial speculation tool rather than as a currency.

They also worry that it is prone to market manipulation by a few large players.

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