Vancouver Sun

Canadian Bitcoin ETF will buy emission offsets


Ninepoint Partners LP is seeking to lessen apprehensi­on about the energy usage of Bitcoin by dedicating a portion of its crypto ETF's management fee to offset the fund's carbon footprint.

“For some investors who are concerned about the carbon footprint of mining, they may be wary of investing in a Bitcoin ETF,” said Alex Tapscott, managing director of digital assets at the Toronto-based firm, referring to the vast array of computers worldwide that compete to confirm Bitcoin transactio­ns.

“What we're doing is creating what we hope is a solution to that problem and giving them the choice that they want and, frankly, that they need.”

We need to figure out a way to ensure that Bitcoin can scale and reach its potential.

The effort comes as critics say Bitcoin's environmen­tal record has worsened while its price has skyrockete­d. Bank of America, for instance, said recently the energy used by the network of computers that power the digital coin is comparable to that of many developed countries and rivals the emissions from major fossil-fuel users and producers.

Ninepoint, which has about US$6.5 billion in assets under management and institutio­nal contracts, is partnering with software fintech-firm CarbonX to purchase carbon credits and support forest conservati­on projects. It's also working with the Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute, which will, together with CarbonX, provide carbon footprint analysis.

Ninepoint didn't disclose how much of the management fee would be contribute­d.

Ninepoint isn't alone. One River Asset Management, whose crypto funds are backed by billionair­e Alan Howard, said it has developed a system that calculates the carbon cost of mining and buys credits to offset the impact.

“This is something that is, in my view, very important — it's going to be with us for a long time — and so we need to figure out a way to ensure that Bitcoin can scale and reach its potential in a sustainabl­e way,” Tapscott said.

Ninepoint's Bitcoin ETF converted from a trust to a fund on May 6. The Bitcoin fund is physically-backed and had roughly US$320 million in assets when it converted.

Canada was first to carry the ETF label for a Bitcoin product. In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to approve one, though at least 11 companies are looking to launch one, amid a run-up in crypto prices.

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