Buying a Tesla in Bitcoins cancels 1/3 of the CO2 savings for its whole lifetime

Franck Leroy
Crypto Lucid
Published in
3 min readFeb 16, 2021

Footprint of one bitcoin = 80 tons of CO2

This is how insanely bad Bitcoin is for the environment : If you buy a Tesla car (around 40 000 $) in Bitcoins, the impact of the mining of those bitcoins is around 80 tons of CO2. This is 4 times more than the saving of CO2 you can expect from this car (compared to a gasoline one) on its entire lifetime (around -20 tons).

Of course, the Bitcoins you use here will eventually be used for other transactions. But still, it gives a good point of comparison : Suppose you want to buy this car with gold. It would take 3 to 5 less energy to mine this gold than to mine the same value in Bitcoins.

What about the transaction only ?

What is the footprint of the transaction on existing bitcoins only ? Since the principle of “proof of work” is to secure the transferred funds, it is fair to split the mining cost per value transferred, rather than by number of transaction. This paper suggest that a stable ratio of 1% of transferred funds is burnt in energy.

1% of 40,000$ = 400$. At 5cts / kWh (average cost of the electricity for mining), this is 8000 kWh. This is about the consumption of an average french family for two years. We showed that bitcoin mining is uses mainly fossil fuel, with an average carbon footprint of 830 g CO2 / kWh : worse than the USA mix.

8,000 * 0.830 = 6.6 tons of CO2

The footprint of the transaction erases 1/3 of the carbon saving of a Tesla car. Why would anyone do that ?

Tesla investing in Bitcoin = 800 000 more gasoline cars in the world

Also, by investing it Bitcoins and making it’s value increase by 10%, Elon Musk / Tesla rose the electric consumption of the system. The increase of carbon impact corresponds to 800 000 gasoline cars added in the world … as long as this increase stands.

This shows that Tesla / Elon Musk couldn’t care less about ecology. It’s all about business.

We need stronger states capable of imposing strong environmental and social rules to limit the megalomaniac ravings of these companies and their leaders. Bitcoin is going exactly in the opposite direction, accelerating the liberal dream of a stateless society and total commodification of the world.

Sources

In 2020, the carbon impact for mining bitcoins is 36 millions of tons of CO2, for 18 billions $ of revenues for miners. Hence, 40 000 $ value of bitcoins represents 80 tons of CO2.

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