Don’t buy Bitcoin’s dishonest attempt to paint itself green – The Hill


Bitcoin’s most ardent supporters have launched a campaign to depict Bitcoin as good for the environment. The truth is that the “mining” of Bitcoin is a major contributor to the carbon emissions driving climate change, annually releasing as much CO2 into the atmosphere as countries like Norway, Sweden or Chile. 
Since China kicked out crypto miners, the industry urgently needed to establish a friendly environment in the U.S. Consequently, it has launched a major public relations and lobbying effort here to masquerade as an environmental leader. Bitcoin companies aim to persuade lawmakers to create favorable legislation, as acknowledged by Jayson Browder, vice president of policy at Marathon Digital Holdings. By emphasizing a laundry list of made-up benefits, Bitcoins minions hope to divert attention away from the crypto currency’s exorbitant and growing energy use. 
The Digital Energy Council is one recently formed lobbying group pushing for the industry’s interests and promoting greenwashing about supporting renewable energy. By unifying a range of stakeholders under a single banner, the industry seeks to amplify their voice and influence policy decisions in Washington. Already, according to Tech Transparency Projects’ recent report, there is a revolving door of roughly 240 officials with key positions in the White House, Congress, federal regulatory agencies and national political campaigns moving to and from the Bitcoin industry. 
But its harmful record on climate change is well-documented. In addition to consuming more energy than some entire nations, much of Bitcoin’s energy consumption comes from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas. Coal and gas plants around the country have been reopened, had their retirements delayed or are burning significantly more fossil fuels just to fuel Bitcoin mining.
Companies like KPMG, one of the Big Four global accounting firms, have profited from Bitcoin and have issued misleading reports regarding its environmental impact. KPMG has corporate holdings of Bitcoin and a business unit dedicated to crypto and blockchain, showing again how misleading talking points about the cryptocurrency are coming from those with a vested financial stake in it, not those dedicated to addressing the climate crisis. With billions of dollars at stake, Bitcoin interest groups will continue to push false narratives and help the revolving door of politicians keep abreast of the latest industry greenwashing talking points. 
Another group attempting to polish Bitcoin’s image is the Satoshi Action Fund, an organization co-founded by former Trump Environmental Protection Agency Chief of Staff Mandy Gunasekara, who said threats due to climate change are “overstated” and we will see “mild to manageable climate change in the future.” This group has been talking to policymakers about the perceived benefits of Bitcoin mining to the electricity grid and the climate even though the information they use comes from other Bitcoin stakeholders. 
One example of greenwashing is the claim that Bitcoin mining can stabilize the Texas grid. But the fact is it consumes massive amounts of Texas’s energy that mainly comes from fossil fuels and taxpayers are footing the bill to create infrastructure to meet miner’s high energy demands. In addition, due to a climate change-fueled heat wave causing illnesses and deaths, the Texas Bitcoin miners were being paid more than their earnings from mining Bitcoin to power down their operations. In August alone, Riot Platforms’ Bitcoin mining operations in Texas made $31.7 million dollars from energy credits for shutting down during the heatwave. Meanwhile, regular Texans were asked to voluntarily reduce their energy use and are charged higher electricity prices
Bitcoin investors, lobbyists and promoters are trying to create a safe haven in the U.S. and make their products accessible to ordinary investors. Their main goal is to make Bitcoin mainstream and raise its value in order to pad their pockets. But to do this they will continue to seek buy-in from officials at the expense of our communities and our climate. 
If Bitcoin’s advocates really wanted to limit polluting carbon emissions, they have an affordable, technically proven alternative available, the one recently implemented by the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency. That company, Ethereum, changed its method of securing and validating transactions — the one Bitcoin continues to use — to one that uses 99 percent less energy. It would be more beneficial for the people and the planet for the Bitcoin industry to put its energy into reducing energy consumption rather than spending time and money developing greenwashing campaigns and lobbying politicians. 
The bottom line is that all Bitcoin supporters want is cheap unregulated energy and to do that they are coming up with an array of greenwashing tactics to court politicians and greenlight projects. As financial institutions like BlackRockFidelity and JP Morgan Chase look to invest in Bitcoin, they should tread cautiously. 
Investors, lobbyists and advocates have one goal: to mainstream Bitcoin at any and all costs regardless of the climate impact and the health and safety of all Americans, as well as the rest of the world. 
Tefere Gebre is Greenpeace USA’s chief program officer. Mike Brune is an adviser to the Change the Code Coalition.
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