BlackRock Is Now Among the Largest Holders of Polluting Bitcoin
by Gigi Singh
February 6, 2024
BlackRock embraces Bitcoin, betraying its climate commitments and putting profit over the planet, communities, and investors.
© Manuela Lourenço / Greenpeac
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager and one of the world’s largest financiers of climate destroying fossil fuels, has just dived headlong into climate-destroying Bitcoin. Early in January, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) approved a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) from BlackRock, the iShares Bitcoin Trust. This move positions BlackRock as one of the lead stakeholders in Bitcoin’s carbon emissions (which rival small countries) and large water and energy usage, which contradicts BlackRock’s climate commitments. Meanwhile, other financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase and Vanguard have chosen to steer clear of unsustainable, energy hungry cryptocurrency.
BlackRock’s substantial investment in dirty Bitcoin now has the potential to draw a broader audience to the cryptocurrency market. Increased support for investing in Bitcoin by large institutions such as BlackRock not only provides mainstream audiences the ability to bet on Bitcoin, it gives the illusion that Bitcoin is a secure and safe investment, thus creating a cascading effect on Bitcoin’s popularity. As Bitcoin scales, the environmental and community impacts will also expand, given the resource-intensive nature of Bitcoin mining. BlackRock must recognize the ramifications of its actions, as the ripple effect of more investors and potentially higher prices could significantly exacerbate Bitcoin’s negative environmental and community impacts.
BlackRock has stated that they believe “climate risk is investment risk,” however that has not deterred them from investing in digital coal, a.k.a. Bitcoin. The inconsistency between these commitments, and the decision to invest heavily in Bitcoin, is at odds with their climate commitments. It also fails to protect investors from Bitcoin’s climate risks as BlackRock has not publicly acknowledged Bitcoin’s large carbon emissions, reliance on fossil fuels, and threat from unstable electrical grids and extreme weather. Bitcoin is proven to be bad for the climate, environment, and communities, examples including:
- Bitcoin uses more energy than countries like Norway, Sweden, and Ukraine
- In Western North Carolina one mine may go up to 95 decibels—which sounds like you’re next to a running motorcycle.
- The total water consumption of U.S. Bitcoin mines alone could be on par with the average annual water consumption of approximately 300,000 U.S. households, equivalent to that of a city like Washington, DC.
Along with the climate and environmental impacts of Bitcoin, communities living near Bitcoin mining operations face water depletion, increased energy costs, strained electrical grids, and very loud noises 24/7.
It is critical that BlackRock be held accountable for having the second largest Bitcoin holdings among publicly traded companies and for being potentially on the path to becoming the single largest holder of Bitcoin. It’s high time for BlackRock to reevaluate its choices, recognize the severe environmental repercussions of its actions, and align itself with a more sustainable future. Ignoring these red flags is a disservice to the planet, impacted communities, and investors. BlackRock needs to pull its head out of the sand and acknowledge the climate crisis by putting out a public statement that addresses Bitcoins negative climate and community impacts.