Facing massive backlash, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is stopping the sale of its NFTs. The pushback they received came from environmentalists concerned that the NFT industry, no matter the technology, will leave a significant carbon footprint. 

The cancellation of the NFT project follows the announcement that came earlier this month from the WWF. They were set to launch their very own NFT collection on the Polygon network, which would have included unique images from endangered species. 

The project’s purpose was to raise funds for endangered species by encouraging people to purchase from the collection. 

Each purchase would have come with a chance to win grand prizes, such as an opportunity to personally meet with the environmentalists that are part of the missions to protect those animals. This was meant to excite buyers and offer a chance to spread awareness of the issue. 

The WWF even pre-empted backlash by claiming, “Releasing our NFTs on the eco-friendly Polygon blockchain, each transaction has the equivalent carbon emissions of a glass of tap water.”

Even though the WWF had good intentions and statistics to back themselves up, many experts quickly refuted their claim. “The carbon footprint of a Polygon transaction is close to 430 grams of C02. This is almost 2,100 times more than the optimistic estimate provided by the WWF, illustrating that Polygon is nowhere near as sustainable as claimed,” claims Alex de Vries, the founder of Digiconomist.

Following the backlash, the WWF closed the deal with their blockchain partner. Shortly after, they released a statement and said, “‘We agreed with our partners to bring this to a close last Friday. We recognize that NFTs is a much-debated issue, and we all have lots to learn about this new market, which is why we will now fully assess the impact of this trial and reflect on how we can best continue to innovate to engage our supporters.”

The Carbon Footprint Of Crypto

Many statistics have been published that have recognized the impact on Bitcoin and Ethereum’s environment. The Bitcoin blockchain alone consumes more than 125 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, far more than most countries in the world. 

Even though Ethereum’s energy consumption is more environmentally friendly, it is still around 112 TWh, according to statistics from Digiconomist.

The judgement of NFTs and crypto transactions may be more complex if you dive deeper into the issue. The reason is that energy consumption has to do with the blocks that must be created to contain information and not necessarily by the sheer volume of transactions. 

No matter what the truth is, there is enough evidence to point to some correlation between NFTs, crypto, and the carbon footprint that they leave. The way they may potentially affect the environment is the reason for the many investments in alternative technologies and approaches to crypto centered around minimizing energy consumption. 

Until that happens, the backlash for companies using crypto is unlikely to stop. Take the recent example of Wikipedia, which was forced to shut off its acceptance of crypto donations because of pushback in social media.