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Bitcoin mining in China could soon generate as much carbon emissions as some European countries, study finds
Cryptocurrency mining requires significant computing power and electricity, and the increase in bitcoin purchases is leaving behind a significant carbon footprint.
This quantity of greenhouse gases would have exceeded the total annual emissions production of the Czech Republic and Qatar in 2016. The Bitcoin blockchain could consume as much energy per year as small and medium-sized countries like Denmark, Ireland or Bangladesh, according to a study by Sinan Kufeogl, Civil Engineering Research Associate at the University of Cambridge.

As bitcoin has grown in popularity, China has become a tech mecca. If the Chinese bitcoin industry were a country, its total energy consumption would have ranked 12th globally in 2016, ahead of major economies like Italy and Saudi Arabia, according to the study. With specialized hardware and cheap electricity readily available, the country now accounts for over 75% of the bitcoin network’s hash power – the power that a computer or hardware uses to run and solve algorithms that generate new crypto. -change. sums and authorize transactions between them.

“Because the bitcoin mining industry is so new, it hasn’t been properly accounted for and regulated around the world,” Shouyang Wang, study co-author and academy professor, told CNN Business. Chinese science.

Bitcoin mining hardware has evolved as cryptocurrency’s popularity has grown time. When it was first mined bitcoin went through a basic central processing unit (CPU) on a general-purpose computer, according to the study’s authors.

The process then evolved and moved to graphics processing units (GPUs), which offered more power, higher hash rates, and ultimately more power consumption. Finally, Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) were introduced to optimize calculations related to mining.

Cryptocurrency mining hardware is constantly running, which also increases power consumption. Between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018, mining operations of four major cryptocurrencies released up to 13 million metric tons of carbon. carbon dioxide, according to a separate study from the research journal Nature Sustainability.

The growth of these emissions could have massive implications for the entire planet.

China is a key signatory to the Paris Agreement and has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2060. But the country remains the world’s largest contributor of greenhouse gases, and the study’s authors say bitcoin mining could undermine the country’s attempts to cut emissions.

“It is important to encourage miners to move their operations to clean energy areas,” Wang said. “That is why it is important to build and modernize clean energy power generation facilities to ensure consistent power generation.”

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