Elon Musk Wants To Clean Up Bitcoin’s Bad Boy Image

Elon Musk Wants To Clean Up Bitcoin’s Bad Boy Image
Image: Getty

After Tesla invested $US1.5 ($2) billion in Bitcoin, it appeared a budding relationship was in the works. Going forward, Tesla would accept Bitcoin as payments for cars and the environmental footprint of the company would suffer as a result. But then something strange happened: Elon Musk pulled Bitcoin as a Tesla payment method.

“Tesla has suspended vehicle purchases using Bitcoin,” Musk tweeted in early May. “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has worst [sic] emissions of any fuel.”

This move signals a change in attitude for the company, which bestowed the title of ‘Master of the Coin’ to its CFO just two months. Musk himself was also titled ‘Technoking’ at the time.

This is also an important step in recognising the negative impacts Bitcoin mining can have on the environment — even if Tesla did just recently sell off a chunk of its Bitcoin holdings for a tidy profit.

Now, Musk is taking this a step further, meeting with leading Bitcoin miners to discuss how to promote “energy usage transparency” and encourage sustainability for the cryptocurrency.

Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy CEO, tweeted Tuesday that Musk had met with prominent Bitcoin miners working in the U.S., and that they had ultimately agreed to form an organisation known as the Bitcoin Mining Council which would “standardise energy reporting, pursue industry ESG goals, & educate+grow the marketplace.”

Executives from blockchain companies Argo, Blockcap, Core Scientific, Galaxy Digital, Hive, Hut 8 Mining, Marathon Digital Holdings and Riot Blockchain were reportedly present at the meeting. They will lead the charge for the creation of this organisation — although it does appear to be in the very early stages of planning.

It’s currently unclear what exactly the organisation will do outside of reporting clearer numbers on how much energy Bitcoin uses. These numbers are already widely available for anyone interested in investing, and should have been consulted prior to Musk’s initial Tesla announcement.

According to Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, a single transaction of the coin produces a carbon footprint as large as watching 101,749 hours of YouTube. It also uses the same electrical energy as a single U.S. household uses over a 44-day period, and 1.94 golf balls worth of e-waste.

That’s a lot of energy being consumed for the sole purchase of trading digital coins.

It was these concerns that Musk raised when he announced Tesla was dropping Bitcoin as a payment method mere months after it began accepting the crytpo.

Musk apparently aims to now address by encouraging Bitcoin miners to be more transparent about the cryptocurrency’s environmental impact.

“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future,” Musk tweeted when he pulled Bitcoin from Tesla’s offerings.

Whether he can achieve this idyllic future remains to be seen.