With the rapid growth and uptake of NFTs in the art world, questions have been raised about the environmental impact of minting and processing these proof-of-work, blockchain-powered tokens.
As with all blockchain technology, the computational power and processes required for token minting and processing requires large amounts of energy.
As the majority of the world’s electricity is still being generated by fossil fuel sources , the large power consumption associated to NFTs has a direct impact on atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
Estimates of the NFT carbon footprint vary, however there appears to be some consensus at around 250kg.CO2-e. Memo Akten’s analysis of 18,000 NFT transactions is the most widely quoted benchmark, finding an average of 211 kg.CO2-e and a median of 155 kg.CO2-e per NFT .
The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated to each stage of an NFT’s life is broken down in Figure 1.
It is to be noted that energy used for the creation, storage and display of crypto art is not included in this footprint.
Figure 1 Estimated GHG emissions of an NFT per stage .
For Comparison Purposes
NFT carbon footprint
Delivering 10kg of traditional art from Sydney to New York by air .
Delivering 10kg of traditional art from Sydney to Melbourne by road .
Production and transport of a MacBook Pro 13″ and iPhone 12 [4, 5].
Recognising the environmental impact of NFTs, Satellite has committed to purchase carbon reductions to entirely offset the NFT carbon emissions associated to each item of crypto art on display.
To address the uncertain nature of NFT carbon footprints, 1 tonne of carbon reductions will be purchased per NFT, providing a buffer of 3 times its estimated carbon footprint.
Satellite has chosen to purchase carbon credits through Carbon Neutral for this purpose. Generated from project developer Carbon Neutral’s Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor.
To date, Carbon Neutral have planted over 30 million native mixed species, restoring over 13,000 hectares of degraded farmland in Western Australia’s wheatbelt.
 Forbes, “Fossil Fuels Still Supply 84 Percent Of World Energy — And Other Eye Openers From BP’s Annual Review,” 20 June 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2020/06/20/bp-review-new-highs-in-global-energy-consumption-and-carbon-emissions-in-2019/?sh=5a7e346f66a1. [Accessed 15 July 2021].
 M. Akten, “The Unreasonable Ecological Cost of #CryptoArt (Part 2),” 31 Dec 2020. [Online]. Available: https://memoakten.medium.com/analytics-the-unreasonable-ecological-cost-of-cryptoart-72f9066b90d. [Accessed 15 Jul 2021].
 Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, “UK Government GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting,” UK Government, London, 2020.
 Apple, “Product Environmental Report: 13-inch MacBook Pro,” Apple Inc, Cupertino, CA, USA, 2020.
 Apple, “Product Environmental Report: iPhone 12,” Apple Inc, Cupertino, CA, USA, 2020.
 carbonindependent.org, “Aviation,” 26 May 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.carbonindependent.org/22.html. [Accessed 15 Jul 2021].
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