Chinese court rules bitcoin mining harms the climate

(Climate Home News, 21 Jul 2022) A Chinese court has quashed a cryptocurrency mining contract on the grounds that the emissions it generates accelerate climate change.

The judgment last week shows judges in China are starting to make a link between national carbon targets and energy-intensive activities. 

The case relates to a dispute between one company that contracted another to buy and operate cryptocurrency mining machines but did not get all the bitcoin it believed it had paid for. The first company sued. Its claim was rejected by a court which judged the mining agreement itself invalid because it harmed the public interest.

On 11 July, the Beijing Third Intermediate People’s Court upheld the verdict, ruling that mining cryptocurrency threatens national economic security and social order. This is consistent with a decision by the People’s Bank of Chinalast September to ban all cryptocurrency transactions, citing their role in facilitating financial crime and growing risks to the country’s economy.  

The court added that mining cryptocurrency wastes energy resources in a way that is incompatible with China’s path to carbon neutrality. “Judging from the high energy consumption of ‘mining’ and the impact of bitcoin trading activities on the country’s financial and social order, the contract involved should be invalid,” it ruled.

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Climate Home News, 21 Jul 2022: Chinese court rules bitcoin mining harms the climate