Tesla board member and brother to CEO Elon Musk, Kimbal, recently stated that the automaker was “ignorant” when it did not weigh the environmental impact of its Bitcoin investment.
“When we invested in Bitcoin, we were very ignorant,” Musk said. “We had no idea of the environmental impact, we literally didn’t know, we were like this seems like a good store of value and a good way to diversify assets. And of course, it didn’t take very long to get a million — I’m not kidding probably a million — messages telling us what we were doing to the environment.”
Kimbal made the comments at the Ethereum Denver conference in an interview with TechCrunch. Tesla’s prowess as the leader of electric vehicles and a mainstay in the conversation of sustainable companies did not necessarily align with the Bitcoin investment. “And of course, our company is about creating alternative energy futures, so we really were not informed enough when we made that decision.”
Eventually, Tesla stopped accepting Bitcoin as a payment option for its vehicles, accessories, and clothing line. The company said that it had suspended vehicle purchases using Bitcoin as it was “concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.” Elon Musk later clarified that coal’s environmental impact was too negative to continue mining or accepting Bitcoin.
Kimbal went on to state that while he does not support the environmental impact of crypto, he does love what it does. “So we’ve just got to figure out how to do it without the environmental impact…. it’s simply not an option to have this environmental impact.”
CEO Elon Musk said that Tesla could accept Bitcoin again in the future, but only if it is acquired in more sustainable ways. “Most likely, Tesla would resume accepting Bitcoin,” Musk said during The B Word Conference in July 2021. “As long as there is a conscious effort to move Bitcoin miners toward renewables, then Tesla can support that,” he added. It looks like Bitcoin is shifting a lot more toward renewables, and a bunch of the heavy-duty coal plants that were being used…have been shut down.”
Tesla said in a 10-Q filing with the SEC that its Bitcoin investment was worth $1.99 billion at the end of 2021.
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