The miners therefore took their belongings elsewhere, including to countries using much dirtier energy than China. Electricity sources powering the Bitcoin network were only 25.1% renewable in August 2021, nearly 17 percentage points lower than the 2020 average.
Bitcoin mining produces as much pollution each year as Greece created in 2019, according to the study. A single Bitcoin transaction results in the same carbon footprint as a traveler traveling from New York to Amsterdam.
“After China banned Bitcoin mining, everyone expected it to get greener, but somewhat surprisingly we are seeing the opposite.” said de Vries. “Much of the hydroelectricity that these miners used to get in China has now been replaced by natural gas from the United States.”
The hydropower behind Bitcoin mines in China has often been held up by cryptocurrency advocates to refute criticism of the technology’s environmental impact.
Coinbase did not respond to questions from CNN about whether it is maintaining its fact-checking in light of China’s cryptocurrency crackdown, but said in a statement that it believes “the industry is innovating at an encouraging pace to solve these challenges… Community-led change is possible and crypto can be part of the fight against climate change if we come together to solve these challenges.”