logo

Do NFTs contribute to climate change?

Thursday, February 17, 2022
By Jacob Alabab-Moser
YES

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which let users create digital "originals" of their items, are indirectly linked to increases in carbon dioxide emissions given their sale on cryptocurrency blockchains like Ethereum.

To verify an Ethereum transaction, cryptocurrency miners must solve a complex puzzle requiring energy-intensive computing. Ethereum emits nearly 54 megatons of CO2 annually. If it were a country, its carbon footprint would rank 55th of 209 nations listed by Worldometer.

NFTs constitute around 1% of Ethereum transactions. Still, the average NFT transaction has an estimated carbon footprint equivalent to more than a month’s worth of electricity for a person living in the EU.

Proposals to reduce the carbon footprint of NFTs, and cryptocurrency transactions generally, include carbon offsets, alternative verification methods that do not require energy-intensive puzzle-solving, and a layered blockchain that permits all but the final transaction among users to happen "off-chain."

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Between 2020 and 2022, under close editorial supervision, Gigafact contracted a group of freelance writers and editors to test the concepts for fact briefs and provide inputs to our software development process. We call this effort Gigafact Foundry. Over the course of these two years, Gigafact Foundry writers published over 1500 fact briefs in response to claims they found online. Their important work forms the basis of Gigafact formats and editorial guidelines, and is available to the public on Gigafact.org. Readers should be aware that while there is still a lot of relevant information to be found, not all fact briefs produced by Gigafact Foundry reflect Gigafact's current methods and standards for fact briefs. If you come across any that you feel are out of date and need to be looked at with fresh eyes, don't hesitate to contact us at support@gigafact.org.
FACT BRIEF BY
facebook
twitter
email
email