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Bitcoin Soars While the Environment Pays the Price

While Bitcoin's soaring value currently captures headlines, its staggering environmental cost goes largely unnoticed. With energy consumption equivalent to 14 nuclear power plants, it's time we focus not just on profits, but also on sustainability.

It is remarkable that media coverage around the recent Bitcoin halving and its new all-time high focuses almost exclusively on the potential price development and the financial rewards for miners. Meanwhile, the immense ecological footprint of Bitcoin is often completely overlooked. It is alarming to see how little attention this issue receives, especially considering that Bitcoin currently consumes the electricity of about 14 nuclear power plants!

Staggering Environmental Costs

Here are some shocking figures that are often swept under the rug: Bitcoin's annual electricity consumption amounts to 144 billion kilowatt-hours. This is more than twice the electricity consumption of the entire country of Switzerland in a year.

A single transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain currently consumes an average of 900 kilowatt-hours of electricity. This enormous energy expenditure directly contributes to global CO2 emissions, thus exacerbating climate change. Additionally, Bitcoin miners cause a significant electronic waste problem, as the necessary mining equipment often cannot be recycled at the end of its lifecycle and instead ends up in landfills.

Towards a Greener Bitcoin Future

It is time we stop ignoring or countering these dark sides of Bitcoin. Because there is a proven approach to minimizing the environmental issues associated with Bitcoin: As Ethereum successfully demonstrated in September 2022, it is possible to adapt blockchain technology to reduce electricity consumption by more than 99.9 percent (and simultaneously improve its ESG rating drastically!).

The problem with Bitcoin is that the miners, who stabilize the network, have no interest in adapting the technology because they earn less from mining in the future… Profit maximization before sustainability, so to speak. Nonetheless, miners determine which technology Bitcoin uses and could initiate a so-called "hard fork" to switch to a greener technology.

A Call to Action

At GCR, we believe this would be a win for the image of cryptocurrencies as a whole and would help drastically reduce the negative environmental impact of Bitcoin. At the same time, Bitcoin’s current D-rating in our ESG rating could significantly improve.

What do you think about Bitcoin's environmental impact? Should we as a community discuss this more and consider alternative solutions, and if so, do you have any additional ideas on how to move toward a greener Bitcoin future?


About Green Crypto Research (GCR)

We assess the compliance of crypto assets with ESG standards and provide an estimation of the identified sustainability risks. Our ESG ratings are used by crypto exchanges, asset managers, and index providers to offer sustainable crypto solutions to their customers.

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