Is Bitcoin the Solution to Reduce Methane Emissions?
Is Bitcoin the Solution to Reduce Methane Emissions?
Bitcoin: A Powerful Tool for Climate Change Mitigation
This is an opinion editorial by Daniel Batten, a Bitcoin ESG analyst, climate tech investor, author, and environmental campaigner.
I didn’t initially get interested in Bitcoin due to its potential to solve financial issues. My background is in investing in climate tech, so when I first heard about Bitcoin, I was highly skeptical and regarded it as a negative for the environment. However, I was persuaded to put my prejudice aside and evaluate it as I would any other technology I was doing due diligence on. After thoroughly assessing the claims and data from both sides, I reached the conclusion that, on a net balance, Bitcoin had the unique ability to solve more than one difficult-to-address climate-change issue.
To provide some background, I have been a climate activist since the 1990s and have been working in the climate tech space for several years. During this time, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the brightest minds in New Zealand, exploring their climate tech ideas and helping them commercialize their projects. While I encountered over 200 different climate tech propositions, none of them had the immediacy, scalability, and potential impact that Bitcoin mining using vented methane gas offered in terms of measurable emission reduction pre-2030.
The realization of the connection between Bitcoin mining and methane emissions came to me one day while reading an article about methane emissions. I discovered that methane is 84 times more warming than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, and reducing methane emissions is considered one of the most effective ways to combat climate change. However, the overwhelming majority of climate tech investments were focusing on technologies other than methane mitigation. This sparked my curiosity and led me to question the impact I was making with my climate tech investments.
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Upon assessing the tech I had invested in, I realized that it had several shortcomings. It was high-risk, would only reduce emissions post-2030, and failed to address the most urgent emission issue. I decided that I could do more and started researching low-risk technologies that could measurably reduce emissions before 2030 and specifically target methane, which is a critical lever to reduce climate change in the next 25 years.
During my research, I discovered that power generation using methane capture was a proven method to reduce methane emissions. By capturing methane from sources like agriculture, oil and gas, and landfills and converting it into electricity, significant emission reductions could be achieved. Among these sources, landfills seemed to be the most significant emitter of methane by 2032. However, landfills posed challenges in terms of location, negotiating with grid owners, and the associated costs.
Coincidentally, I had also been exploring Bitcoin as a hobby, primarily to understand the data behind it. Environmentalist friends warned me about Bitcoin’s negative environmental impact, but I also came across a Bitcoin community member who challenged these claims. I delved deeper into the topic and discovered that Bitcoin’s location-agnostic nature and its high reliance on electricity rendered it ideal for utilizing stranded energy that no one else wanted. This realization prompted me to consult with grid operators, bitcoin miners, and renewable energy engineers, as academic articles and journalism often lacked reliable data on Bitcoin’s environmental impact.
Bringing together my research on methane mitigation and Bitcoin, a eureka moment occurred. I found that financing infrastructure into Bitcoin mining using landfill gas could mitigate more emissions than any other financial instrument. In fact, it was 65 times more effective in reducing emissions compared to solar installations.
To put this into perspective, our calculations suggested that a mere $108 could offset annual emissions for someone living in the West, while less than $10,000 could offset their entire carbon footprint for a lifetime. Inspired by these findings, we established CH4 Capital, a fund optimized for immediate, impactful emission reduction.
I didn’t start off as a Bitcoin advocate, but I’ve become one. Bitcoin has the potential to mitigate runaway methane emissions, facilitate the renewable energy transition, and provide financial sovereignty to over 4 billion people. For the first time, I feel that I can contribute to reducing our emissions on a larger scale. It’s just a start, but it’s a start we wouldn’t have without Bitcoin.
In conclusion, Bitcoin is more than just a digital currency; it is a powerful tool for climate change mitigation. By leveraging its unique features and embracing its potential, we can make a difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, combatting climate change, and creating a sustainable future.
This is a guest post by Daniel Batten. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.