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 use a “proof of work” mechanism, like Ethereum, is very costly in terms of energy consumption (and associated fees). However, the same doesn’t apply to blockchains that use a next generation “proof of stake” system, which have a significantly lower energy consumption. This NBC article provides a helpful introduction to the two different blockchain technologies, explaining how “energy consumption for proof of stake is 99.99 percent lower than proof of work.”
The same is also true for minting using 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.
To mint our NFTs, ART3 will initially use either one of the leading proof of stake blockchains, e.g. Polygon, which claims the credential of the most eco-friendly blockchain, or by batch-minting using the ERC-1555 standard. Polygon records transactions on its own side chain, rather than writing each transaction to the main Ethereum blockchain directly, thus making it much more efficient in terms of speed, cost and energy. ERC-1155 allows for a single smart contract to govern an infinite number of tokens, offering significant savings on gas costs / carbon emissions by preventing the need to wait for each block in single transfers.
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 improve rapidly over time. In fact, the entire Ethereum chain is well on its way to completing its migration to proof of stake in the coming months. But, given the well publicised environmental impact of first generation proof of work blockchains, it is hardly surprising – and only necessary – that hard questions need to be asked and answered on these issues. Which is why transparency has been our approach from the start.
ART3.io are proud to say that we are one of only a tiny fraction of NFT sellers minting using Polygon or batch minting and offsetting, putting our environmental principles first. We are hopeful that we can set an example to others that success is still possible, so they have the confidence to follow in our footsteps.
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.
Whichever system we use to mint, ART3 will offset (x2) any carbon emissions generated from activity in our wallet using the leading NFT offset platform Aerial – and then offset again – so that we minimise our carbon impact wherever possible, and our overall activity is in fact net carbon positive.