UPSC PRELIMS 2019 : Bitcoin use causing huge CO2 emissions: Study

Bitcoin use causing huge CO2 emissions- Study

Topic : Bitcoin use causing huge CO2 emissions: Study

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment



Bitcoin use causing huge CO2 emissions- Study

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has revealed that Bitcoin system has a carbon footprint of between 22 and 22.9 megatonnes per year. This is comparable to the footprint of cities such as Hamburg, Vienna or Las Vegas.

Bitcoin mining is very energy-intensive and the process has increased rapidly in recent years.



  • The computing capacity used in this process — known as Bitcoin mining — has increased rapidly in recent years. Statistics show that it quadrupled in 2018 alone.
  • Consequently, the Bitcoin boom raises the question of whether the cryptocurrency is imposing an additional burden on the climate
  • The researchers determined the annual electricity consumption by Bitcoin, as of November 2018, to be about 46 TWh.
  • Based on these data, the team was able to localise 68 per cent of the Bitcoin network computing power in Asian countries, 17 per cent in European countries, and 15 per cent in North America.



  • Bitcoin (BTC) is a digital currency, which is used and distributed electronically.
  • Bitcoin is a decentralised peer-to-peer network. No single institution or person controls it.
  • Bitcoins can’t be printed and their amount is very limited – only 21 mln Bitcoins can ever be created.
  • Bitcoin was first introduced as an open-source software by an anonymous programmer, or a group of programmers, under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.


Way Forward:

  • The researchers have recommended that cryptocurrency mining should be regulated in regions where power generation is especially carbon-intensive. Also, to improve the ecological balance, more mining farms can be linked to additional renewable generating capacity.


Sample Question

Who created Bitcoin?

a. Satoshi Nakamoto

b. Samsung

c. John Mcafee

d. China


Answer: A