Cryptocurrency mining could hinder the fight against climate change: the White House

A group of bitcoin mining units inside a container at the Cleanspark facility in College Park, Georgia, US, on Friday, April 22, 2022.

Elijah Novelj | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy warned Thursday that cryptocurrency mining could hamper the country’s ability to mitigate climate change. She also said that federal agencies should look at information from crypto miners and local utilities in a “privacy manner” to help understand and mitigate the problem.

Cryptos in the US now consume as much energy as all home computers or all residential lighting, the White House He said in a report. These findings come amid growing criticism over the amount of electricity that cryptocurrency mining produces.

Cryptocurrency mining involves running computer banks to solve complex mathematical equations in order to generate new coins and validate transactions. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, is tied to this “proof of work” system, although the second most poplar coin, ether, is moving to a different method that may not require as much energy.

U.S. crypto production accounts for between 0.2% and 0.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions and between 0.4% and 0.8% of domestic emissions, respectively, although estimates are uncertain, according to the report. Cryptocurrency mining produces emissions that warm the planet primarily by burning coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels to generate electricity.

This year, cryptocurrency mining generated between 110 and 170 million metric tons of carbon pollution worldwide and about 25 to 50 million metric tons in the United States alone, according to the report. The process produces electricity by purchasing it from the power grid or by producing and disposing of computers and mining infrastructure.

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“Electricity from digital assets contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, additional pollution, noise, and other local impacts, depending on markets, policies, and local electricity sources,” the White House said in the report.

“Depending on the energy intensity of the technology being used, crypto assets could impede broader efforts to achieve a net carbon footprint consistent with US climate commitments and goals,” she added.

The report is the result of the chief Joe BidenAn executive order issued in March that called on the government to examine the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies. The president has pledged to at least halve US emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The report said global crypto-mining emissions are greater than those of many individual countries and equal to global emissions from all barges, tankers and other vessels on inland waterways. Additionally, Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency by market capitalization, generates nearly two-thirds of global crypto greenhouse gas emissions.

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