Each year at the annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP), individual countries are pressured to ramp up their emissions reductions promises and showcase evidence they are taking steps to meet them.
With Bitcoin mining blamed for using as much power as an entire country, and politicians searching for easy targets to strike, the industry appears to be on a collision course with these global commitments to achieve net-zero emissions.
While it’s not possible to ban Bitcoin completely, lawmakers and regulators can tank the price and make life very difficult in the years ahead for the number one cryptocurrency.
There are signs it’s already happening.
A report from the European Commission at the end of 2022 stated that EU countries “must be ready to block crypto mining,” and the trading block’s new MiCA rules were at one stage set to include a ban on Bitcoin mining. The recently adopted legislation still leaves this door ajar, however, aiming to “reduce the high carbon footprint of crypto-currencies” by making service providers “disclose their energy consumption.”
Across the pond, the Biden administration has proposed a 30% excise tax on the power consumption of U.S. cryptocurrency mining operations. The tax would be imposed regardless of whether the power is renewable, with the administration arguing Bitcoin mining’s power consumption of renewable energy will slow down the transition to Net Zero. That’s in contrast to a New York moratorium on Bitcoin mining in 2022 that exempted firms powered by renewable energy.
The U.S. government appears to be taking to heart the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s September 2022 report that claimed the environmental impact of producing cryptocurrencies could “impede U.S. efforts to combat climate change.”
Former member of the Bitcoin Mining Council and independent researcher Hass McCook doesn’t mince his words about threats to ban mining.
“Governments should focus on greening their grids, which miners rely upon, as opposed to trying to ban an unbannable technology.”