Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
An ESG focused-fund manager is challenging claims from the environmental non-profit GreenpeaceUSA that Bitcoin mining is a major source of pollution and societal harm.
In a report published last Tuesday, GreenpeaceUSA called on Bitcoin-friendly financial services companies—including BlackRock, Fidelity, JPMorgan, and others—to denounce Bitcoin’s “climate destruction” and encourage a code change to a “cleaner protocol” that obviates the mining industry.
“All of these companies have connections to Bitcoin and have failed to take meaningful action to solve the problem despite making climate and sustainability pledges,” GreenpeaceUSA wrote.
It's a view rejected by CH4 Capital co-founder Daniel Batten, who argues that Bitcoin is a force for environmental healing, rather than harm.
“There is a growing weight of evidence from those most qualified to make the assessment to suggest that Bitcoin mining helps build out the renewable grid,” Batten wrote in a formal rebuttal to GreenpeaceUSA on Sunday. He cited Brad Jones, former interim CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), who has spoken about Bitcoin’s ability to make renewable energy operators more profitable, fundable, and stable.
According to Batten, many of the facts and figures used by GreenpeaceUSA to demonstrate Bitcoin’s environmental harm were misleading, if not outright false.
GreenpeaceUSA "uses unsubstantiated fear about 'what might happen' rather than evidence," he writes, saying the report is "filled with emotive language."
For example, GreenpeaceUSA claimed that the mining industry is “mostly powered mostly by coal.” In fact, Batten notes, there are 41 known sustainably powered mining operations, and only one operation still uses a coal-related product.
Furthermore, unlike the environmental activist group's claim that Bitcoin’s “climate destruction” would “accelerate” if left unchecked, Batten presented data showing that Bitcoin’s emissions are actually falling over time.
“Emissions are falling despite rising hashrate due to decimation of mining in Kazakhstan and other coal-based grids,” explained Batten in a message to Decrypt. Such miners, he said, have relocated to more sustainably powered grids like those in Texas.
He also cited individual public mining companies, such as Marathon, which have moved their facilities from a coal-based to wind-based standard, alongside “flare-gas mining that reduces the overall net emissions of the bitcoin network.”
Batten’s fund specifically invests in companies that aim to mine Bitcoin using purified landfill gas that would otherwise be burned and pollute the atmosphere with methane emissions. The process is a win-win for both the environment and the company’s bottom line, he writes.
“Our $400 million fund will have sufficient dry powder to finance the Bitcoin network, abating more emissions than its creating, which can end ESG FUD, the major remaining barrier for both retail and institutional adoption,” Batten told Decrypt.
The Bitcoin community has been largely unwelcoming to GreenpeaceUSA’s campaign, which began last year after the organization received $5 million to highlight the perils of the mining industry.
When asked for his thoughts on the GreenpeaceUSA campaign and its backer, Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen, Batten refused to comment in great detail.
“I'll let people make up their own mind about the intentions of a chair of another altcoin giving a large sum of money to help an NGO attack a rival form of cryptocurrency in Bitcoin,” he said.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to correct Daniel Batten's name and clarify that he was responding to GreenpeaceUSA's Bitcoin mining report.