Harald Rauter is an environmentalist and Bitcoiner. In this interview, we discuss how UN climate change action is predicated on socio-economic scenarios that no longer apply (i.e. a cooperative world with improving equality), and how Bitcoin’s trustless market-based support for the energy transition could be the solution.
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The Paris Climate Accords in 2016 set the goal to limit global warming to below 2°C, but preferably 1.5°C, from pre-industrial levels. Following this, the UN’S Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2018 produced a report setting out the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, and the pathways to keep warming below 1.5°C.
The pathways were developed from forecasts of greenhouse gas emissions and radiative forces affecting climate change, and five different plausible scenarios of how the world may evolve in the future in socio-economic terms. These extend from an optimistic scenario where society starts shifting to a sustainable future, to a pessimistic scenario of a multi-polar world focused on national interests.
Not all of the scenarios had mitigation pathways developed. The issue is that the world has changed drastically in the short time since the IPCC produced the report: it now resembles the pessimistic scenarios for which we have no mitigation pathways. This is obviously a problem, but not one that is being widely discussed, let alone having potential solutions considered.
However, there are some working with environmental investors and policymakers who are seeing Bitcoin’s utility in a new light. The world is waking up to Bitcoin being able to support energy grids, subsidise the harnessing of stranded renewable energy and utilise waste methane. What isn’t commonly discussed is that it can do all of this without the need for cooperation: it is a trustless protocol with a market-based utility.
Bitcoin mining could potentially be an important factor in mitigating climate change and limiting warming to 1.5°C, in an uncooperative world. What is needed is for it to be accounted for in the open source modelling work the IPCC has made available. Once we can quantify its importance, we can educate the decision-makers, and the market should take care of the rest.