Revenue constraints to drive Bitcoin mining towards sustainability

Revenue constraints to drive Bitcoin mining towards sustainability

The Role of Bitcoin Mining in the Blockchain Industry

Note: This article is part of CoinDesk’s 2023 Mining Week, sponsored by Foundry. The author, Margot Paez, is a fellow at the Bitcoin Policy Institute, head of sustainability at Block Green, and a sustainability and bitcoin mining consultant.


In recent years, Bitcoin has faced criticism for its alleged negative impact on the environment. However, it’s essential to stay balanced in evaluating the role of Bitcoin mining in the context of climate change. While Bitcoin mining alone won’t save the planet, it does have valuable potential in managing challenges related to the energy transition. Moreover, Bitcoin is an essential tool for preserving freedom and liberty amidst growing climatic pressures that can destabilize nations.

Bitcoin Mining and Climate Change

Bitcoin mining, according to estimates by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CBECI), accounts for roughly 0.14% of global emissions. While this may seem significant, it is merely a drop in the bucket concerning total greenhouse gas emissions. Even if Bitcoin mining were banned today, humanity would still be on track to surpass the 1.5-degree Celsius warming target.

The challenge lies not in blaming Bitcoin mining for increased emissions, but rather in emphasizing the need for strong governmental action to reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels. Bitcoin mining will not be the primary catalyst for exponential growth in renewable energy or the sole driver of decarbonization goals. While the Bitcoin Policy Institute is working to quantify its exact effect, it’s clear that network dynamics and market conditions will affect Bitcoin’s role as a renewables catalyst.

The Reality of Bitcoin Mining and Emissions Reduction

There is a misconception that Bitcoin mining could easily set up on wasted gas sites such as landfills, orphaned wells, or oil and gas fields. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many of these methane sites are inaccessible to Bitcoin miners. While there are energy startups attempting to mine with wasted methane, the tight profit margins during market downturns pose challenges to their long-term viability.

Despite these obstacles, Bitcoin mining still has positive implications. Bitcoin’s agility, modularity, and minimal uptime requirements make it an excellent revenue source for renewable energy projects. Miners participating in demand response programs alleviate strain on the electrical grid during severe weather emergencies. Some mining companies are even repurposing their waste heat for greenhouses or municipal heating.

Moreover, Bitcoin miners are actively exploring ways to mitigate methane emissions in the oil and gas industry, as well as considering the business case for landfill and agricultural waste gases. These endeavors highlight the inventive nature of the mining community, especially in times where profit margins are tight. The integration of mining operations into larger clean energy initiatives diversifies revenue sources and strengthens the industry’s overall sustainability.

Bitcoin’s Impact on Climate Change

While Bitcoin mining plays a crucial role in the blockchain industry, its greatest impact on climate change goes beyond emissions reductions. Climate change poses significant challenges to society, affecting food production, water resources, and infrastructure. In times of uncertainty, people often seek strong leadership, which can lead to the rise of political strongmen.

Here, Bitcoin’s preservation of economic liberty becomes crucial. By safeguarding economic freedom, Bitcoin upholds human rights, ensuring the preservation of individual liberties even in the face of global instability caused by climate change. Bitcoin’s value lies not solely in emissions reduction but in its ability to empower individuals and protect economic freedoms.


It is essential to maintain a balanced perspective when evaluating Bitcoin mining’s impact on the environment. While it may not single-handedly save the planet, Bitcoin mining offers valuable solutions for managing energy transition challenges. Furthermore, its role in preserving economic liberty makes it a crucial tool in mitigating the destabilizing effects of climate change on society. Viewing Bitcoin’s contribution through this lens amplifies its positive impact and underscores the significance of blockchain technology in addressing global challenges.