Musk: Bitcoin is bad for climate (and you can’t buy Teslas with it anymore)

A casually dressed man appears flip during a presentation.

Enlarge / Elon Musk in 2020. (credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Getty)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Wednesday that Tesla would stop taking bitcoin as payment for the company’s electric vehicles. The change comes less than two months after the automaker began accepting the cryptocurrency. Why the about-face? Musk now says he has concerns over bitcoin’s carbon footprint.

Tesla’s purchase policy wasn’t the company’s only bitcoin-related announcement that has made waves. In February, the electric automaker disclosed that it had taken a $1.5 billion stake in the currency. Cryptocurrency promoters rejoiced at the string of announcements—Tesla’s moves had bolstered the currency’s legitimacy, and bitcoin’s price against the dollar surged over 15 percent in the wake of the disclosure.

But environmentalists despaired—the carbon footprint of purchasing a Tesla with bitcoin was so large that it swamped any emissions savings from driving it. Today, Musk appears to share that assessment. “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 wrote in a tweet.

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