Environmental load from use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency mining in Russia

https://doi.org/10.35595/2414-9179-2021-1-27-238-248

View or download the article (Rus)

About the Author

Olga Yu. Chereshnia

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Geography,
Leninskie Gory, 1, 119991, Moscow, Russia;
E-mail: chereshnia.o@geogr.msu.ru

Abstract

With the increasing use of information technologies (IT) their opportunities to ensure environmental sustainability and the risks of their widespread adoption are growing. And if the possibilities have been studied well enough, then the risks have been paid attention to relatively recently. However, awareness of these risks is becoming increasingly important with the spread of technologies. Currently, there are already hundreds of cryptocurrencies, and the technological basis for many of these currencies is the blockchain—a digital ledger of transactions. This article has assessed the environmental burden of mining and supporting transactions in the cryptocurrency market in Russia using CO2-equivalent. For this, for the first time, the amount of electricity consumed to support cryptocurrency transactions in Russia was calculated, data on the largest cryptocurrency mining centres were collected and systematized, and the main factors for the placement of both large and small private farms were determined. Based on the collected data a map of the spread of mining centres in Russia was created. Our analysis showed that on average, 2.977 million tons of CO2 equivalent are emitted in Bitcoin production in Russia, and the total emissions from cryptocurrency mining in Russia are 4.466 million tons of CO2 equivalent. Based on our data on environmental damage, we believe that when deciding on the use of blockchain technology, not only its capabilities should be taken into account, but also an assessment of the ratio of potential benefits and impact on the environment. A systematic understanding of interrelated direct and indirect impacts is needed to make decisions on the use of blockchain, since the technology shows itself as potentially one of the most energy and resource intensive.

Keywords

blockchain, global climate change, cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, ecological footprint.

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For citation: Chereshnia O.Yu. Environmental load from use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency mining in Russia InterCarto. InterGIS. GI support of sustainable development of territories: Proceedings of the International conference. Moscow: MSU, Faculty of Geography, 2021. V. 27. Part 1. P. 238–248. DOI: 10.35595/2414-9179-2021-1-27-238-248 (In Russian)