How Bitcoin mining disproportionally impacts vulnerable communities

Should bitcoin’s mass adoption continue, an escalating climate crisis is inevitable, disproportionately exacerbating social and environmental challenges for communities already experiencing multiple dimensions of deprivation. This is the conclusion of new paper by Dr. Pete Howson and Alex de Vries titled “Preying on the poor? Opportunities and challenges for tackling the social and environmental threats of cryptocurrencies for vulnerable and low-income communities” released in the Elsevier journal Energy Research & Social Science.

The article also highlights many cases where miners exploit vulnerable communities, as “cryptocurrency producers and other actors take advantage of economic instabilities, weak regulations, and access to cheap energy and other resources.” To tackle these impacts, the article explorers multiple regulatory pathways, which includes: “1) promoting voluntary private-sector commitments to using only renewable energy, 2) encouraging a system of voluntary carbon offsetting, 3) using existing financial regulations and tax frameworks, and 4) imposing national and/or international bans on cryptocurrency ‘mining’.” The authors subsequently state that out of all options considered “a global coordinated ban is likely to prove the most effective policy option.

The release of the article coincides with new calls for a ban on cryptocurrency mining in Europe. Norway is considering backing a Swedish recommendation to the EU that proposes such a course of action. China previously banned cryptocurrency mining during the summer.

The full research article can be accessed for free (for a period of 50 days) via the following link: https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1e5aF7tZ6ZtdeD.

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