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The Latest United Nations Study on Bitcoin Mining is Fundamentally Flawed

Our report uncovers critical shortcomings in recent UN research on Bitcoin's environmental impact.

The Bitcoin Policy Institute has released a comprehensive critique of the latest United Nations study examining the energy consumption of Bitcoin mining, revealing substantial flaws that question the paper’s validity. Major oversights were overlooked by both the authors and the peer reviewers at AGU’s Earth’s Future. The study, which calls for "urgent regulatory intervention," appears to fall prey to a worrying trend of academic works that lack the rigor and nuanced understanding necessary for such a complex issue.

In short, the study falls short of the scientific thoroughness expected in research, rendering it unsuitable as a basis for policymaking.

Our analysis uncovered three critical flaws in the paper.

1. Selective Bias

The study's literature review is based on sources that have been discredited and fails to consider newer research showcasing bitcoin mining's potential to support grid reliability and advance the shift to renewable energy.

2. Data Misapplication

The authors project past data onto future trends without yearly updates or recognition of discontinued data sources like the CBECI.

3. Flawed Methodologies

Methodologies used are inappropriate for demand-side analysis, leading to unfounded assertions about bitcoin mining's impact on developing economies and social justice.

Despite these flaws, the study's authors draw the unsubstantiated conclusion that bitcoin mining harms developing economies and exacerbates social and economic injustice. The authors then recommend policy action against the bitcoin mining industry and a switch on Bitcoin’s part from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake to ameliorate the environmental impact of its electricity use.

These findings and recommendations are poorly evidenced and demonstrate significant gaps in the authors’ knowledge of bitcoin mining. Policymakers should seek out insights from the renewable energy sector, the bitcoin mining community, and researchers to cultivate research that is both transparent and collaborative. Sound policy can only stem from robust data and cross-sector cooperation.

Read the full report here.