Bitcoin mining’s carbon emission levels are not nearly as drastic as previously reported, new research suggests.
Susanne Köhler and Massimo Pizzol, researchers at Aalborg University in Denmark, recently released new research that indicates Bitcoin mining last year had a total carbon emission footprint roughly equivalent to that of Estonia, according to a summary of the findings published in New Scientist.
In 2018 Bitcoin mining as a whole consumed about 31.29 terawatt-hours of electricity and generated about 17.29 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
This falls on the lower end of previous estimates, including a report in Nature that claimed Bitcoin mining alone could sabotage the climate-change-reduction goals that were set by world leaders at the Paris Agreement.
Köhler says the environmental impacts of Bitcoin mining shouldn’t be overstated or ignored.
“On the one hand we have these alarmist voices saying we won’t hit the Paris agreement because of Bitcoin only. 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.”
“In contrast to previous studies, it was found that the service life, production, and end-of-life of such [mining] equipment had only a minor contribution to the total impact, and that while the overall hashrate is expected to increase, the energy consumption and environmental footprint per TH mined is expected to decrease.”
According to the report, fossil fuel-reliant China is responsible for 47% of Bitcoin mining’s carbon emissions.