In brief: Its popularity might have taken a massive tumble in recent times, but cryptocurrency mining certainly hasn’t disappeared. The practice may shrink even further in China, however, where authorities want to ban the sector.
The National Development Reform Commission wants to restrict or eliminate a number of industries as they “seriously wasted resources,” are safety risks, can have legal implications, or damage the environment. Among those activities on a draft version of the revised list is cryptocurrency mining.
The public has until May 7 to comment on the draft. Any ban would come into effect as soon as the final version is published.
Bloomberg notes that China was once home to about 70 percent of Bitcoin mining and 90 percent of trades, but authorities have been trying to shrink the industry due to concerns over bubbles, fraud, and the waste it produces. Initial coin offerings (IPOs) and were banned and local exchanges told to stop cryptocurrency trading in 2017.
Last year saw the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) ask local authorities to regulate bitcoin miners’ power usage to reduce the scale of their production slowly.
According to a report in Nature Sustainability (via Gizmodo), crypto mining emits anywhere between 3 million and 15 million tons of carbon dioxide globally.
The news comes a week after Bitcoin and other cryptos saw an unexpected surge. After hitting a low of around $3,200 in December and staying below $4,000 for most of this year, Bitcoin jumped suddenly above $5,000 for the first time since last November and is currently at around $5,260—it appears China’s plans haven’t negatively affected the price.