Greenpeace speaks out against Bitcoin ETFs

17/01/2024
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Well-known environmental organisation Greenpeace has expressed concern over the recent approval of several spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) products by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The organisation sees this approval as a "turning point" as it believes it marks the increasing involvement in Bitcoin, which they see as a highly polluting product.

Greenpeace argues against various ETF recommendations
In response to the endorsement of Bitcoin ETFs by prominent financial entities such as BlackRock and Fidelity, Greenpeace argues that these companies should take an active role in addressing the carbon emissions issues associated with Bitcoin. Rolf Skar, the National Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA, said the approval of Bitcoin ETFs makes it easier for investors to bet on Bitcoin, an asset that Greenpeace says has a significant pollution problem.

Skar highlighted the potential impact of this approval, stressing that it poses a serious challenge to ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. According to him, the approval of Bitcoin ETFs marks a crucial moment in the financial sector's acceptance of Bitcoin, a notoriously energy-intensive cryptocurrency. Moreover, Skar expressed concerns about the impact of ETF approval on Bitcoin's price dynamics. He argued that the introduction of these financial products would likely increase the demand for Bitcoin, thereby increasing its price.

Bitcoin ETFs and their impact on climate and society
Rolf Skar also explained that as the value of Bitcoin increases, more miners are encouraged to participate in the mining process, contributing to higher energy consumption. A major point of contention for Greenpeace is the carbon footprint of Bitcoin mining. Skar pointed out that most of the energy used in Bitcoin mining comes from fossil fuels, leading to increased carbon emissions and water use. In essence, Greenpeace sees the approval of Bitcoin ETFs as a victory for executives at major Wall Street companies, but a setback for both the environment and society.

Greenpeace's opposition to Bitcoin's environmental impact is not new. In 2021, the organisation stopped accepting Bitcoin donations and has consistently advocated changes to Bitcoin's underlying code. Specifically, Greenpeace supports the transition of Bitcoin's consensus mechanism from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. This proposed change aims to reduce the energy consumption required to operate and secure the Bitcoin network. The organisation's position reflects a wider debate within the cryptocurrency community about the environmental sustainability of various blockchain technologies.

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