So miners took their business elsewhere, including countries using significantly dirtier energy than China. Electricity sources powering the Bitcoin network were just 25.1% renewable in August 2021, nearly 17 percentage points lower than the 2020 average.
Mining Bitcoin each year produces as much pollution as Greece created in 2019, the study found. A single Bitcoin transaction results in the same carbon footprint as a traveler flying from New York to Amsterdam.
“After China banned Bitcoin mining, everyone was expecting it to become more green, but we are somewhat surprisingly seeing the opposite happening.” said de Vries. “A lot of the hydropower these miners got previously in China has now been replaced with natural gas from the US.”
The hydropower behind China’s Bitcoin mines was often held up by cryptocurrency advocates to rebut criticism about the technology’s environmental impact.
Coinbase did not respond to CNN’s questions on whether it stood by its fact check in light of China’s cryptocurrency crackdown, but said in a statement it believes “the industry is innovating at an encouraging pace to solve these challenges… Community-led change is possible and crypto can be part of the fight against climate change if we come together to solve these challenges.”