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Elon Musk’s Brother Says Tesla Was 'Ignorant' of Environmental Concerns When It Bought Bitcoin

Speaking at ETHDenver, Kimbal Musk said that the EV company was unaware of Bitcoin's high energy consumption when it adopted the cryptocurrency last year.

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A Tesla Model S. Image: Tesla

Kimbal Musk, Tesla board member and brother of Elon Musk, admitted that the company was "very ignorant" of Bitcoin's high carbon footprint when it bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin last year.

Speaking at the EthDenver conference, Musk said that Tesla had been bombarded with “I’m not kidding, probably a million” messages complaining about the company's Bitcoin plans. "Of course, our company is about creating alternative energy futures so we really were not informed enough when we made that decision,” he added. Tesla had announced in February last year that it would accept Bitcoin as payment for its electric vehicles but then aborted those plans months later, citing environmental concerns.

"I really do not agree with the environmental impact of crypto, but I love what it does," Musk said. "So we’ve just got to figure out how to do it without the environmental impact… It’s simply not an option to have this environmental impact."

Kimbal Musk is also a board member on his brother’s other big project, SpaceX, and he has channeled his wealth towards various philanthropic pursuits, like the Colorado non-governmental school-based food growing initiative, Big Green, which he launched a spinoff DAO for at the end of last year.

Musk hopes DAOs can use blockchain’s tech and principles of decentralization to better channel money towards philanthropic initiatives. 

Tesla and Bitcoin

Since Elon Musk took over as Tesla's CEO in 2008, the company has made a commitment to help the world facilitate a transition to clean energy.

When Tesla abandoned plans to accept Bitcoin as a payment option in May 2021, CEO Elon Musk cited "the rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions." He later announced that the company would resume accepting Bitcoin for payment when there is "confirmation of reasonable clean energy usage by miners," placing the threshold as high as 50%.

While it no longer accepts Bitcoin as a payment option, Tesla has retained the Bitcoin it bought for its corporate treasury—which, according to its annual report, has worked out in the company's favor.

Elon Musk, meanwhile, has shifted his affections to the meme coin Dogecoin; last week, he tweeted that Tesla’s Hollywood supercharging station will accept DOGE as payment for food and merchandise.

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