In brief

  • The Winklevoss-owned NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway said it plans to reduce its ecological footprint.
  • Nifty Gateway is built on Ethereum, which is currently very energy-intensive.

The white-hot NFT market has been facing backlash for its ecological footprint, and crypto companies are beginning to respond—some more gracefully than others.

Earlier today, the Winklevoss-owned NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway announced plans to go carbon neutral through dedicated carbon offsets at the end of each month. It’s also planning to introduce a new minting process that’s “99% more efficient.”

But the company’s note, authored by founders Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, dismisses concerns around crypto art’s impact on the climate, even as it commits to going green:

“Because there is no blockchain to account for the carbon footprint of the traditional art world, which includes, inter alia, all of the private and commercial air travel to the Basels, Biennales, and countless other festivals around the world, not to mention the automobile traffic to gallery exhibitions, museums, and so forth, such criticism has not been leveled against the offline art world, despite the fact that its carbon footprint is orders of magnitude greater. Apparently, this is the price of transparency and accountability.”

The idea that Nifty Gateway is only being criticized because of Ethereum’s “transparency” around carbon emissions may strike you as a dodge; does the blame lie with the independent researchers who dug up the figures, or with the company producing them? And those emissions are estimated to be significant: a report from Memo Akten, a professor at UCSD, suggests that one artist’s collection of NFTs on Nifty Gateway produced 86 tons of CO2, which is roughly equivalent to “100+ transatlantic flights.”

Recent entrants into the NFT space, like Grimes, Rico Nasty, and Aphex Twin, have been criticized for their embrace of the energy-intensive technology.

Nifty Gateway recently hosted an auction called “The Carbon Drop,” which was accompanied by a 500 ton CO2 offset.

NFT auction houses Foundation and Zora have also worked to reduce their ecological impact, without the sneering press releases.