Elon Musk Says Bitcoin Has ‘Great Cost’ to Environment and Tesla Will No Longer Accept It

"We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel."
May 12, 2021, 10:34pm
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Image:  Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Saturday Night Live host and billionaire Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payments for its cars because he is concerned about the environmental impacts associated with Bitcoin. Tesla famously has a large position in Bitcoin and sold $272 million worth of Bitcoin in Q1 of this year, from which it netted $101 million in profits.

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“We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk tweeted. “Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment.”

He explained that Tesla would be holding onto its considerable Bitcoin holdings (which is what many Bitcoin evangelists are doing, anyway), and said that the company would begin to “use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy. We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1 percent of Bitcoin’s energy [per] transaction.”

Bitcoin mining is famously very energy intensive, and, as mining gets more difficult as more coins are created, the energy requirements per coin increase. Bitcoin boosters say that Bitcoin's energy demands can hasten a switch to greener energy sources, but the vast majority of Bitcoins are still mined using fossil fuels.

As one of the richest people on planet Earth, a tastemaker for the tech set, and (until now) a regular booster of both Dogecoin and Bitcoin, Musk has shown the ability to move both the stock and cryptocurrency markets. After he tweeted about GameStop, its stock price soared. After he explained Dogecoin on SNL, its price plummeted. Immediately following his tweet, the price of Bitcoin dropped roughly $2,000 per coin, showing that the cryptocurrency is still highly influenceable and volatile.

This weekend, SpaceX accepted Dogecoin as payment for the “DOGE-1 mission to the Moon” which is slated for 2022. That mission will be a cube sat flying aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.