Producing and running bitcoins is expensive in terms of energy consumption. The production of this crypto-currency is facing a lot of environmental criticism and would even prevent some countries from reaching their climate targets for the time being. Explanation.

Produced and managed with free software, bitcoin has seduced and convinced in the context of the crisis from which it originated, the crisis of 2008. The reasons for the craze? This crypto-currency gave monetary power back to its users. How did it do this? Through the management of money by technology rather than by a centralized power such as States and Central Banks on the one hand, and commercial banks on the other. It has imposed itself as a “tool for individual liberation” by being a currency thought of as a free and common good. However, the reality is far from this. Bitcoin is in reality only marginally a currency and has essentially become a speculative instrument.

Bitcoin is contrary to current climate ambitions

Bitcoin consumes an increasing amount of energy: to produce and manage it, powerful computers called “miners” are needed. The extreme competitiveness of the sector leads to increasing power consumption. In March 2021, Bill Gates (in an interview with the New York Times) followed by Elon Musk criticized the disastrous carbon footprint of bitcoin… which caused its price to fall by 15% in a single day. The annual consumption of the bitcoin network is said to be reaching 128 terawatt-hours per year, or 0.6% of the world’s electricity consumption (or the equivalent of the consumption of a country like New Zealand!). For comparison: Google’s electricity consumption was 12.2 TWh in 2019. 

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