Can the mining reward ever go up?
I believe the answer is no, and the only way it will go up is if the miners decide to change the protocol.
But, I wanted to check with the experts. Thanks!
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The mining reward is composed of two parts, transaction fees and some newly created coins referred to as the block subsidy. The block subsidy follows a strict schedule which halves the amount every 210,000 blocks and does not increase. The transaction fees are users' bids for getting their transactions included in blocks. At times of high blockspace demand, transaction fees can increase substantially.
Therefore, the mining reward of blocks can both go up and down as transaction fees vary. The subsidy will only ever decrease, unless the entire Bitcoin ecosystem agrees to amend the protocol.