Bitcoin Mining Companies Hiding Energy Data, Wall Street is Responsible

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Greenpeace report calls for Wall Street accountability in Bitcoin mining energy use.
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Traditional Finance’s Role in Bitcoin Mining

Greenpeace claims that Bitcoin (BTC) mining has evolved into a significant industry dominated by traditional financial companies. These companies are acquiring and operating large-scale facilities that consume vast amounts of energy.

In 2023, global Bitcoin mining consumed approximately 121 TWh of electricity, comparable to the entire gold mining industry or a country like Poland. The report contends that this has led to significant carbon emissions, with these facilities consuming as much electricity as a small city.

“Despite the guise of Bitcoin being independent from the mainstream financial system, the industry is deeply connected to traditional finance for Bitcoin mining companies to access capital and to enable trading and investing in Bitcoin” , the report stated.

Traditional Finance Support for Bitcoin Mining

The report highlighted the substantial role traditional financial institutions play in supporting Bitcoin mining. Companies rely on capital from banks, asset managers, insurers, and venture capital firms to build and maintain their operations.

The report identified the top five financiers of carbon pollution from Bitcoin mining in 2022: Trinity Capital, Stone Ridge Holdings, BlackRock, Vanguard, and MassMutual. Together, they were responsible for over 1.7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the annual electricity use of 335,000 American homes.

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Bitcoin mining companies Marathon Digital, Hut 8, Bitfarms, Riot Platforms, and Core Scientific generated emissions comparable to 11 gas-fired power plants.

Bitcoin’s Environmental Impact

The report pointed out that Bitcoin’s environmental impact compared to its market value is similar to beef production and gasoline from crude oil. As the industry has expanded, Bitcoin’s environmental effects have worsened.

Bitcoin uses significant electricity due to its Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism. Unlike traditional currencies, cryptocurrencies operate through a decentralized digital ledger. Bitcoin’s PoW requires miners to solve complex algorithms that consume substantial electricity.

“Energy-hungry miners are straining electrical grids across the U.S. and world…draining electricity when more is needed to power electrification of housing, transportation, and manufacturing to meet global climate targets”, the report read.

Financial Responsibility

The report contends that Wall Street, traditional financiers, and banks are more responsible for the alleged energy disparity than Bitcoin miners themselves. Greenpeace asserts that institutions encourage miners to use more energy through tax breaks and bank benefits.

The report argued that miners depend on backing from banks and asset managers, with Wall Street and the banking industry responding favorably, seeking their portion of the rewards.

Proposed Solutions

Greenpeace argues that financial institutions should be more transparent about their environmental incentives to reduce the negative impact of these incentives.

“Bitcoin miners need to disclose data about their energy use and carbon emissions”, the report stated. “Financial companies also need to report on the financed and facilitated emissions associated with their investments, loans, and underwriting services for Bitcoin mining companies”.

The organization calls for Bitcoin miners to pay a fair share for their electricity use, strain on electrical grids, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and disruption to nearby communities. They suggest implementing a different consensus mechanism for Bitcoin to address the current energy-intensive Proof-of-Work model and ultimately resolve Bitcoin’s environmental impact.

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