Bitcoin’s energy consumption has jumped 80% since the beginning of 2020, according to a study from Cambridge

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The bitcoin price broke past the vaunted $50,000 mark for the first time on Tuesday

  • Bitcoin now uses 80% more energy than it did at the beginning of 2020.
  • Bitcoin uses 128 terawatt-hours annually, according to estimates from Cambridge.
  • The cryptocurrency is responsible for 0.59% of total worldwide energy consumption.
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Bitcoin’s energy consumption has jumped 80% since the beginning of 2020 amid a meteoric rise for the digital currency.

According to Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance, the cryptocurrency’s estimated annualized electricity consumption at the beginning of 2020 was 71.07 terawatt-hours. On March 11 of this year, that figure hit 128 terawatt-hours.

For reference, in all of 2019, Australia’s main electric grid used only 192 terawatt-hours. And the entire country of Argentina uses just 125 terawatt-hours annually.

Bitcoin now represents 0.59% of total worldwide energy consumption, according to Cambridge, and if you were to rank every country in terms of their total energy consumption including bitcoin, the digital asset would be the 29th largest consumer of power on the planet.

Bitcoin’s excessive energy use and climate change impact have been under scrutiny from all sides lately. Experts have repeatedly warned about the “staggering” amount of energy required to mine the digital currency.

Even Bill Gates has critiqued bitcoin for its environmental impact.

“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind,” Gates said in a Clubhouse interview with New York Times reporter and CNBC co-anchor Andrew Ross. “It’s not a great climate thing.”

On the other hand, some experts say bitcoin’s energy use isn’t an issue as long as the energy comes from green sources, and it appears there has been a transition to using more green energy for digital currencies.

In September of last year the 3rd Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study, also from the University of Cambridge, showed 39% of the energy consumed by cryptocurrencies comes from renewable energy sources.

That’s a significant improvement from the 2nd Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study, which revealed that just 28% of the total energy consumed by crypto mining came from renewable sources.

Still, many experts contend cryptocurrencies have a long way to go if they want to silence critics of the coin’s climate change effects.

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Cambridge becomes the 1st US city to require stickers warning the threat of climate change at gas pumps

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A view of Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, will require area gas pumps to post stickers warning of the harms of climate change, becoming the first US city to implement such a mandate, The Guardian reported.

The Guardian reported Friday Cambridge will require all gas pumps in the city to display bright, yellow stickers that say “burning gasoline, diesel, and ethanol has major consequences on human health and the environment including contributing to climate change.” 

The stickers are intended to “remind drivers to think about climate change and hopefully consider non-polluting options,” a city spokesperson told the outlet. 

In 2014, California’s Berkeley and San Francisco proposed a similar idea to put stickers on gas pumps, but the idea wasn’t ultimately put into action.

Reducing gas emissions by taking public transportation or even restricting the amount you step on the gas pedal is a key way to minimize your carbon footprint.

A study published in Scientific Reports earlier this year showed that even if the public worked to stop all greenhouse gas emissions, the world will continue to face climate change and global warming, Business Insider’s Aylin Woodward previously reported.

Last year, the US greenhouse gas emissions rate dropped by 2.1%, according to the Rhodium Group, a private economic data firm. Even so, the emissions rate did not see net reductions between 2016 and 2019, according to Rhodium.

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