The environmental impact of bitcoin mining has become a hot topic in recent months, with climate activists claiming that proof-of-work (PoW) mining is too energy-intensive. However, according to a recent report by ESG analyst Daniel Batten, bitcoin mining could reduce global carbon emissions by 5.32 percent. According to Batten’s research, if bitcoin mining companies “aggressively” targeted leaked methane, they could prevent 0.15 percent of global warming by 2045.
Daniel Batten, the CEO of Geneious and an ESG analyst, published a report on May 23, 2022, claiming that bitcoin mining could help the environment. The findings suggest that “using [bitcoin] mining to combust leaking methane can eliminate 5.32 percent of all global CO2-eq emissions,” according to Batten. According to Batten’s research, bitcoin mining is one of the only sustainable ways to reduce carbon emissions. According to Batten’s report, “reducing methane emissions is the quickest way to reduce global warming and complements CO2 reduction strategies.” The executive summary of the study adds:
Bitcoin mining is currently the only way of reducing these methane emissions which is both technologically feasible and does not require significant behaviour change in order to work.
Bitcoin mining, and more specifically PoW mining, has been criticized a great deal for using so much energy. However, many believe certain detractors have an agenda and most people do not question the amount of carbon and state-enforced violence that is needed to keep fiat currencies afloat. Furthermore, crypto asset industry players have been introducing ESG (environmental, social, governance) friendly concepts to the digital currency mining ecosystem. Furthermore, a mining report that covers Bitcoin’s electricity usage data shows that consumption levels decreased by 25% in the first quarter of 2022.
Batten’s research goes further and notes how bitcoin mining is more effective than leveraging carbon credits or governmental systems. “Bitcoin mining is also currently the only way to combust leaking methane that is both economically and logistically feasible without carbon credits or the governments of major industrialized nations needing to issue tax incentives and funding in unison,” Batten’s report explains. “Bitcoin mining has shown early evidence of being able to scale with an exponential growth rate.”
Report Says ‘Bitcoin Mining’s Energy Consumption Is Obvious, but Its Environmental Benefit Is Not Immediately Obvious’
In fact, bitcoin (BTC) or PoW mining, in general, can be leveraged to combat leaking methane from a number of different sources. For instance, the report notes that mining could help in areas where flare or vented gas is expelled by the oil and gas industry. Bitcoin mining could help fight landfill gas, and areas that have orphaned oil wells. The researcher’s findings detail that bitcoin mining could also mitigate gas waste issues from biogas sources like manure, farming and waste regions, and waste from the food industry. “In future papers, we will quantify the CO2-eq reduction possible by using bitcoin mining with biogas or wastewater,” the report says.
“Unlike solar, whose environmental benefit is obvious but whose consumption of carbon (via coal furnaces used to melt silicon) is less obvious, bitcoin mining’s energy consumption is obvious, but its environmental benefit is not immediately obvious,” the study about quantifying the potential impact of bitcoin mining claims. “Perhaps for this reason, it is easy to make a premature and superficial assessment based only on energy consumption that Bitcoin has a net negative environmental impact. Such reasoning is flawed, since net impact can only be established by considering both environmental cost and benefit.”
In addition to the flawed reasoning, Batten describes a number of misconceptions about bitcoin mining using methane for energy. The misconceptions include:
- “Burning methane releases CO2 which will increase our carbon emissions.”
- “We should be focusing on renewable energy, not burning methane.”
- “When oil [and] gas companies flare methane, it removes methane anyway.”
- (Closely related to 3) “The benefits of generating power from flared gas are marginal.”
- “We should be using that flared gas for something more useful” – hospitals, residential heating, anything.
- “Oil companies will just use that money to do more oil exploration.”
- Agriculture is the biggest methane polluter: eating less meat would solve it.
Batten explains how each and every one of the aforementioned reasons is a miscalculated error and he believes bitcoin mining can reduce the world’s methane emissions even quicker than the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) carbon reduction goals.
“Bitcoin mining can eliminate 0.94 + 4.38 = 5.32% of all global emissions. This represents 23% of all global methane emissions: more than half the UNEP’s methane reduction target,” Batten’s study deduces. The ESG analyst adds:
That means Bitcoin mining has the potential to achieve half our methane reduction target. That also means that Bitcoin mining has the realistic potential to help humanity avoid nearly 0.15% of warming by 2045. To our knowledge, this can be legitimately claimed by no other technology.