In December 2021, Bitcoin had an approximately $960bn market capitalisation, with roughly 41 per cent of global market share among cryptocurrencies. Although known to be energy intensive, the extent of Bitcoin’s climate damages is unclear.

In a new report, the researchers estimated that that in 2020, Bitcoin mining used 75.4 terawatt hours of electricity (TWh) – higher electricity usage than Austria (69.9 TWh) or Portugal (48.4 TWh) in that year.

“We find no evidence that Bitcoin mining is becoming more sustainable over time,” said UNM professor Benjamin A. Jones. “Rather, our results suggest the opposite: Bitcoin mining is becoming dirtier and more damaging to the climate over time. In short, Bitcoin’s environmental footprint is moving in the wrong direction.

“Globally, the mining, or production, of Bitcoin is using tremendous amounts of electricity, mostly from fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas. This is causing huge amounts of air pollution...