Climate Pledges vs. Bitcoin Investments: Unveiling the $1.5 Billion Dollar Climate Bomb
by Gigi Singh
July 11, 2023
Greenpeace USA's new report exposes the financial institutions driving Bitcoin’s climate destruction.
Click here for the full report
Washington, DC (July 11, 2023)–Greenpeace USA’s new report exposes the financial institutions driving Bitcoin’s climate destruction.
BlackRock, Fidelity, Vanguard, CitiGroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have collectively invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin mining, along with providing numerous services and investments to their customers, the report finds. Investing in Bitcoin’s Climate Pollution: Big Finance is Betting on Dirty Bitcoin, released today, finds that these companies’ Bitcoin investments contradict their climate commitments and the demands of science and justice.
Bitcoin, referred to by some as a “climate bomb,” devours energy at an alarming scale, rivaling nations like Chile and Denmark; most of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. Coal-fired power plants slated to be closed have been kept open or even reopened to power bitcoin mining. Financial institutions are accelerating the clock on this carbon time bomb by collectively investing over $1.5 billion dollars in the mining industry and mainstreaming broader adoption. Bitcoin’s climate pollution needs to be addressed immediately before it becomes a bigger problem.
Joshua Archer, Greenpeace USA’s Bitcoin Project Lead, said: “There is no CEO of Bitcoin. But JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, and all of the companies we investigated have the power and resources to push for a change to the code that would eliminate nearly 100% of Bitcoin’s energy use. This is a rare opportunity to eliminate a massive amount of fossil fuel use without needing to replace it with another energy source. But instead of calling for this common sense change and leading us toward a green future, financial institutions are making a risky gamble on Bitcoin at the expense of climate and communities. By investing in mining companies, creating new avenues for Bitcoin transactions, and building new services to bring Bitcoin to a broader clientele, they are operating in contradiction with their own climate pledges. We invite them and other stakeholders to the table to plot a future for Bitcoin that’s compatible with a just, habitable planet for all.”
All nine companies have made climate pledges or set ESG goals, yet all fail to address the glaring pollution problem posed by Bitcoin. Some have even publicly criticized Bitcoin’s environmental impact, but continue to discreetly invest in and expand their Bitcoin portfolios.
To learn more about the role of financial institutions in supporting Bitcoin’s climate problem, read Greenpeace USA’s Report here.
Our scorecard ranked asset manager BlackRock and bank JP Morgan Chase as the worst when it comes to Bitcoin. Both emerged as prominent supporters of Bitcoin by actively investing in mining companies and Bitcoin investment products. Despite their sustainability commitments to reduce carbon emissions, neither company has taken action to address Bitcoin’s environmental impact.
Greenpeace USA’s investigation exposed a glaring contradiction, as influential figures like Blackrock CEO Larry Fink and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who have both denounced Bitcoin and claimed to be climate champions, are now deeply entrenched in substantial Bitcoin investments. At the World Economic Forum in January 2023, Dimon famously mocked cryptocurrency as a “waste of time” and Bitcoin as a “decentralized Ponzi scheme” and a “hyped-up fraud.” That these key players have embraced Bitcoin raises serious concerns about the integrity and seriousness of the financial service industry’s commitment to addressing climate change.
Archer added: “It’s not enough to have ESG goals and climate pledges — financial institutions must enforce them and live up to their promises. These financial institutions should follow through on their commitments and take responsibility for the significant consequences their business operations have in the real world. The impact of their inaction on pressing issues like Bitcoin’s pollution problem can be far-reaching and contribute to more severe climate change.”
If these C-suite executives genuinely prioritize combating the climate emergency and achieving their net-zero emission targets, it is imperative for them to acknowledge publicly the issue at hand. Greenpeace USA calls on them to push for fundamental changes in Bitcoin’s code, ensuring it becomes a force for positive change rather than a contributor to climate degradation. By taking a stand, they can demonstrate true leadership in aligning financial power with environmental stewardship.
Multiple attempts were made to contact executives from all nine financial institutions. Visa, Mastercard, BlackRock, and CitiGroup were willing to engage in conversations about Bitcoin pollution, but to date these discussions have yielded limited results. Fidelity, Vanguard, JPMorgan Chase, American Express, and Goldman Sachs ignored or refused Greenpeace USA’s efforts to engage them on this issue.
The methodology involved selecting financial companies from the banking, asset management, and payment processing sectors based on their involvement with Bitcoin, considering their size and influence in the industry. The report examined investments and exposure through share and bond holdings in Bitcoin mining companies and the provision of services and products related to Bitcoin. Data was collected from public filings, news sources, and Bloomberg Terminal. The report acknowledges the challenges of tracking Bitcoin investments and quantifying the scope and size of Bitcoin-related services.
Contact: Gigi Singh, Greenpeace USA Senior Communications Specialist, [email protected], 631-404-9977
Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at www.greenpeace.org