Following criticism by environmentalists on the carbon footprint effect of NFTs, the world wildlife fund (WWF) has stopped selling its NFTs. Last week, the WWF disclosed that it would be launching its NFT collection on the polygon blockchain, citing the blockchain’s environmental friendliness as the reason for their choice.
The Cause Of The Reversed Decision
Part of the WWF statement at that time stated that “we chose to use the polygon blockchain to launch our NFTs because the carbon emission from each NFT minting isn’t up to a cup of tap water.” That announcement triggered greater scrutiny of Polygon’s carbon footprint.
One of those scrutinizers was Alex de Vries, Chief Executive Officer of digiconomist. Vries opined that “each minted NFT on the polygon blockchain causes up to 430g of carbon emissions. That’s over 2,000 times higher than WWF’s estimate and proves that the polygon network isn’t as environmentally friendly as previously claimed.”
Vries’ assertions and many other environmentalists caused WWF to reverse its decision to launch its NFT collections. Briefing media men on its change of decision, the WWF stated that “our partners and we decided to halt this launch on February 4. We discovered that there is a need to improve our knowledge on this ever-growing sector.”
“One other reason for the decision is the huge debate surrounding NFTs and the sector. However, we have learned a few lessons following the period of our announcement. Hence, we will evaluate what we’ve done (along with the support of our highly esteemed community) and see how best we can improve when we launch fully,” the WWF statement concluded.
The Carbon Footprint Of NFTs
It is a proven fact that pow blockchains such as BTC and ETH emit huge amounts of carbon. A Cambridge university research showed that the energy consumption of the BTC network is nearly 126 Terawatt hours (TWh) annually – an amount that is almost twice as much as what is consumed in most nations every year.
The Digiconomist website also revealed that the eth network consumes nearly 113 TWh yearly. While it is nearly impossible to specify the amount of carbon emissions with each NFT transaction, the huge amount of energy consumption for transactions on the Ethereum blockchain proves that minting NFTs also consumes a huge amount of energy.
There is a reason it is almost impossible to specify the amount of energy consumed by each NFT transaction. The energy cost of mining new blocks on a blockchain determines the energy consumed by pow of blockchains. It is never calculated based on single transactions.
NFT’s Energy Consumption
Research published by Cambridge University’s blockchain tech center revealed that the design of pow blockchains leads to a direct correlation between the energy they consume and their market cap, which causes a huge demand for their implementations such as BTC and ETH.
The study further revealed that the energy consumed by PoS blockchains is significantly less than pow blockchains. But most PoS blockchains are built on pow blockchains. Hence, they will still be criticized because it is assumed that they are contributing to the carbon emissions from NFT minting.