The price of bitcoin has taken a nosedive after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company was suspending plans to accept the cryptocurrency as payment for electric vehicles.
Bitcoin was down around 12% early Thursday morning ET — bringing the coin’s price down to about $50,900, according to cryptocurrency news website Coindesk.
Musk cited the cryptocurrency’s high environmental cost as reason for the move, after months of being bullish on 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,” Musk said in a note posted on Twitter Wednesday. “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.”
Tesla did not immediately respond to questions regarding the move, including how many vehicles have been purchased with bitcoin and whether Musk was previously unaware of its environmental impact.
The environmental cost of mining — or creating — digital currencies has been well-documented for years, with the debate around them reignited in recent months as cryptocurrency-based tokens known as NFTs exploded in popularity.
Musk, who has in the past expressed skepticism about cryptocurrencies, said in an interview on social app Clubhouse earlier this year that he thinks bitcoin is on the verge of “getting broad acceptance by conventional finance people.” He said he should have bought the digital currency eight years ago.
On Wednesday, Musk said Tesla still plans to use bitcoin after the currency finds cleaner energy sources.