What could be better than climate friendly NFTs?
Recently, blockchain technologies have come under fire for their gargantuan carbon footprint; Bitcoin has been slammed for its polluting practice (Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, 2021) (McMaster, 2017) and Ethereum is scrambling towards its greener ETH2.0 (The Eth2 Upgrades | Ethereum.org, n.d.). NFTs are no exception. According to one estimate, the average single-edition NFT leads to the emission of 211 kgCO2 (Akten, 2020). Compare this to the estimate that the creation of a single physical print by an artist leads to the emissions of 2.3 kgCO2 (Davis, 2021) and you see why this issue is at the forefront of many digital artists’ minds. Therefore, the question naturally arises: how, on earth, can Plastiks consider itself a technology that is helping fight against climate change when it uses a technology that seemingly does the opposite?
In order to answer this question, we need to look at how Memo Akten came to the figure of 211 kgCO2. To start with, they were looking to determine this value for the major NFT marketplaces, most of which use the Ethereum Network to mint, bid, cancel bids, sell and transfer NFTs. The Ethereum network is known to be highly polluting (Ethereum Energy Consumption Index, 2021). This is mostly down to its use of a Proof-of-Work (PoW) Consensus Protocol which is very computationally intensive. Each new transaction that happens on the Ethereum network releases on average about 93 kgCO2 (Ethereum Energy Consumption Index, 2021). However, NFTs require more gas than your average transaction. In fact, according to Memo Akten’s estimate they on average require more than double the amount of gas and, therefore, have more than double the carbon footprint.
However, the Plastiks marketplace is run on a Proof-of-Stake Network. Proof-of-Stake (PoS) Consensus Algorithms are much less polluting than PoW ones. According to an estimate by Tezos, an average NFT transaction on the Tezos network, a PoS network, requires 200 mWh (TQ Tezos, 2021) which corresponds roughly to 0.05 gCO2 per NFT. This is dramatically different to the emissions from PoW NFTs. We do not intend to use Tezos but I believe this demonstrates that the emissions from our Plastiks Marketplace will not be much different from other online activities because PoS networks are run on similar technology to Tezos. On top of this, we intend to offset what little carbon footprint our NFT marketplace will have.
When you consider this alongside the avoided emissions due to recycling plastic from my previous Medium Article, you realise that our Plastiks platform is a very climate-friendly platform.
Furthermore, when discussing NFTs in the context of CryptoArt, it is important to take into account that the traditional art world is very polluting as well. With its opulent art fairs, jetset art collectors and regularly traded artworks, the art industry has an enormous footprint. This is demonstrated by the fact that in England alone the art and culture industry reported emissions of 114,000 tCO2 in 2018/19 (Tiseo, 2021). We are not supposing that we will replace this art world with online marketplaces. However, if we could reduce its emissions just slightly, then the climate would benefit.
Therefore, we hope that this clears the conscience of any recyclers or artists who are worried about the carbon footprint they may have as a result of NFT creation and sales and we hope that they will consider using our platform. NFTs are a part of the future of art — let’s make that future a green one.
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Akten, M. (2020). The Unreasonable Ecological Cost of #CryptoArt. Part 1 | Medium. Medium. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://memoakten.medium.com/the-unreasonable-ecological-cost-of-cryptoart-2221d3eb2053
Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index. (2021). Digiconomist. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption
Davis, E. (2021, March 26). The carbon footprint of creating and selling an NFT artwork. Quartz. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://qz.com/1987590/the-carbon-footprint-of-creating-and-selling-an-nft-artwork/
The Eth2 upgrades | ethereum.org. (n.d.). Ethereum.org. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://ethereum.org/en/eth2/
Ethereum Energy Consumption Index. (2021). Digiconomist. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://digiconomist.net/ethereum-energy-consumption
McMaster, A. (2017). Bitcoin Is Massively Polluting the Earth — And We Should All Be Scared. Global Citizen. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.globalcitizen.org/fr/content/bitcoin-pollution-environment-electricity-robots/
Tiseo, I. (2021, January 27). • England: Art and culture carbon emissions 2012–2019 Statistic. Statista. Retrieved November 30, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/962136/art-culture-carbon-footprint-england/
TQ Tezos. (2021, March 16). Proof of Work vs. Proof of Stake: the Ecological Footprint. Medium. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://medium.com/tqtezos/proof-of-work-vs-proof-of-stake-the-ecological-footprint-c58029faee44