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Could Bitcoin emissions push global warming above 2 °C?

Reference Type: 

Journal Article

Dittmar, Lars, and Aaron Praktiknjo. 2019. “Could Bitcoin emissions push global warming above 2 °C?” Nature Climate Change 9 (9): 656–57.

In a recent commentary, Mora et al.1 hypothesize that cumulative GHG emissions of Bitcoin alone could amount to ~231.4 GtC within the next 16 yr (on the basis of their median scenario), pushing global warming above 2 °C. To put these numbers in context, the carbon budget of ~231.4 GtC is equivalent to ~63 yr of emissions from global power generation at the rate observed in 2017 (that is, ~3.7 GtC)2. Bitcoin mining is undoubtedly electricity intensive. However, the electricity demand scenarios calculated by Mora et al. seem unlikely, as Bitcoin-related emissions would entail a tripling of global electricity generation within the next five years (see Supplement). We regard infrastructure bottlenecks and soaring electricity prices as barriers to such growth levels. For example, global electric power capacity increased by only ~ 17% over the past five years...

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