IPCC Shares “Growing Concern” Over Crypto Energy Use

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  • The IPCC has warned that cryptocurrency emissions are a “growing concern”
  • The climate change body warned that the growth of data centers, including blockchain, is set to continue
  • The IPCC did note that data on crypto mining contains “gaps” and modeling issues

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an arm of the United Nations aimed at assessing the science related to climate change, has said that there is “growing concern” over the energy use of the cryptocurrency sector. However, the panel has also noted that the data around cryptocurrency energy usage is unreliable and that it doesn’t take into account the steps being taken by cryptocurrency mining firms to reduce their energy usage and emissions.

IPCC Acknowledges Shonky Crypto Mining Data

The IPCC report, which was published Monday, noted that as the crypto sector continues to grow so will its impact on the climate, stating that “data centres and related IT systems (including blockchain), are electricity-intensive and will raise demand for energy” adding that “cryptocurrencies may be a major global source of CO2 if the electricity production is not decarbonised”.

However, the group added that while the energy requirements of cryptocurrencies is a “growing concern”, the data around them is foggy:

…considerable uncertainty exists surrounding the energy use of their underlying blockchain infrastructure. For example, while it is clear that the energy requirements of global Bitcoin mining have grown significantly since 2017, recent literature indicates a wide range of estimates for 2020 (47 TWh to 125 TWh) due to data gaps and differences in modelling approaches.

This fact has been ignored by mainstream media outlets who frequently use a single source for their scaremongering headlines, while a recent hearing on cryptocurrency mining included material from a supposed data source that admitted to using “approximate figures taken from external sources”.

Blockchain Tech Can Help Reduce Energy Reliance

The IPCC did however note that technologies such as blockchain can “enhance energy-efficient control, reduce transaction cost for energy production and distribution, improve demand-side management…and reduce the need for physical transport.”

The report was the IPCC’s third since its formation and carries the warning that a rise of more than 1.5ºC could be disastrous for the planet, a target that is rapidly becoming “out of reach”.