While we are excited about the technology behind blockchain and NFTs, the environment is something we care deeply about. To that end, we are committed to working with the most sustainable methods & platforms, and finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint, as we explore the benefits of this new technology for artists.
Traditional minting of individual NFTs directly on blockchains that used a “Proof of Work” mechanism, like Ethereum, used to be very costly in terms of energy consumption (and associated fees). However, since the Merge, a lot of the well publicised environmental concerns have been addressed, the Ethereum 2.0 network now predicted to consume 99.5% less energy than it did while it used Proof of Work.
The same is also true of blockchains that use a next generation “Proof of Stake” system, which carries a significantly lower energy consumption.
Prior to the Merge, ART3 minted on alternative platforms such as Polygon or used, where possible when minting on Ethereum, the multi-token standard ERC-1155, which allows for ‘lazy minting’, i.e. does not write to the main Ethereum blockchain until a sale is made, therefore incurring no carbon emissions or gas fees during the initial minting process.
Our processes of minting offer transactions with comparable carbon intensity to many other mainstream internet applications, such as email, cloud storage, internet search etc; functions that we all use daily.
We appreciate there’s a lot of jargon here, so if you are new to NFTs and blockchain technologies, this glossary of terms may help.
As with many new technologies, blockchain and NFTs found origin in processes that were soon understood to be inefficient. This will and has already improved rapidly over time but, given the well publicised environmental impact of first generation proof of work blockchains, it is hardly surprising – and only necessary – that questions around the environmental impact need to be asked and answered on these issues. Which is why transparency has been our approach from the start.
There are significant benefits to NFTs (or smart contracts) which will be game changing for both collectors (being able to prove provenance and edition scarcity) and artists (being able to monetise their work and earn royalties on future sales). These are the tools which we are excited about, and which we will continue to explore as part of our long-held mission to help photographers realise their creative potential.
This study by UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies concludes that PoS-based systems can make a contribution to reducing energy consumption – and could even undercut the energy needs of traditional central payment systems (e.g. Visa) – raising hopes that this technology can actually contribute positively to combating climate change.
We encourage people to do their own research to gain a fuller understanding of the nuances of blockchain technology. The facts, we are sure, will put minds to rest, as they did for us.