According to a study published this week by Nature.com, China could end up exceeding its emissions reduction targets as a result of carbon-intensive bitcoin mining. As reported by CNBC, some 75% of the world’s bitcoin mining is done in China, where there are cheap electricity and relatively easy access to manufacturers who make specialized hardware, according to the study. As a result, the nation’s bitcoin carbon footprint is as big as one of its ten largest cities, the paper claims.
The study was conducted by the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The research on China’s mining activities — published by the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications on Tuesday — was conducted by academics from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, Cornell University, and the University of Surrey. It comes despite rhetoric from China that it is keen to become more environmentally friendly. Chinese President Xi Jinping said last year that the country is targeting peak carbon had dioxide emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by the year 2060.
The intensive bitcoin blockchain operation in China is threatening climate change targets.
“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,” the authors of the report wrote. Worldwide, bitcoin mining consumes an estimated 128.84 terawatt-hour (Twh) per year of energy, which is more than entire countries such as Ukraine and Argentina, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, a project of the University of Cambridge. The authors note that China’s bitcoin energy usage by 2024 will surpass the total energy consumption of Italy or Saudi Arabia.