NFT Carbon Footprint Calculator: Comparison of NFT Carbon Emissions

Woman looking at a computer screen with an nft carbon footprint and wondering how the carbon footprint of NFT is measured using nft carbon footprint calculators for non-fungible tokens and digital assets that are bought and sold online.

The first NFT is believed to have been minted in 2014 and the trend soon caught on, but did you know that the NFT carbon footprint is enormous?

It has been estimated that Bitcoin and Ethereum combined has the twelfth highest energy consumption of all countries in the world.1

What Are NFTs?

To understand the NFT carbon footprint, it is important to understand what exactly NFTs are.24

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a digital asset that is bought and sold online, often using cryptocurrency. NFTs can be found in the form of music, art, videos, and games and are encoded with the same type of software that cryptocurrencies are built with.

However, there is a significant difference between an NFT and a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. While cryptocurrencies are fungible, NFTs contain digital signatures that make them inherently non-fungible.

In other words, cryptocurrencies can be exchanged or traded, while NFTs cannot be exchanged or traded.2

Why Do NFTs Have a Carbon Footprint?

Blockchains are systems that record and store information in a way that makes it nearly impossible to hack the information. The first mainstream crypto-collectible trend emerged in 2017, and today, because NFTs rely on a blockchain, the process uses a lot of energy.

An image of blockchain system distribution network in computers.

(Image: Tumisu34)

Ethereum alone uses around 31 terawatt-hours of electricity on an annual basis, which is estimated to be the same amount that the country of Nigeria uses every year.3

Read More About: What is a Carbon Footprint Explained in 60 Seconds with Images

Why NFTs Are Bad for the Environment?

The debate about whether NFTs are bad for the environment is ongoing, however, the proof is in the NFT carbon footprint.

Most NFTs are minted within the Ethereum network, using a mining process to confirm the transaction. The process is explained as follows:

  • Because NFTs use the Ethereum blockchain, a proof-of-work system is required to confirm every new block
  • To confirm the new block, computer networks must solve complex problems.
  • The network uses energy and receives the gas fees which are generated during the confirmation process
  • This, in turn, incentivizes miners to invest in more hardware which then usurps even more power and energy.
  • This additional hardware emits greenhouse gases which are detrimental to the environment4

NFT Energy Consumption

It has been estimated that minting an NFT using the Ethereum platform uses more than 260 kilowatt-hours of electricity. This is the same amount of electricity the average American household required over a period of 9 days.5

NFT Energy Consumption Calculator

To calculate the energy consumption of a single NFT transaction, all the components of the process must be considered. For instance, each transaction requires the same amount of energy as the average household uses in a day and a half.

That is minus the following considerations:

  • Minting: 142 kWh, 83 KgCO2
  • Bids: 41 kWh, 24 KgCO2
  • Cancel Bid: 12 kWh, 7kgCO2
  • Sale: 87 kWh, 51 KgCO2
  • Transfer of ownership: 52 kWh, 30 KgCO2

These figures reveal that the average NFT uses around 340 kWh and produces around 211 KgCO2 in emissions.

Multiply that by at least 8,000 transactions the result is a massive NFT carbon footprint.6

NFT Energy Consumption Comparison

The estimated 340 kilowatt hours of energy used by an NFT, excludes the energy required for additional processes such as designing as well as additional blockchain transactions.25 For this reason, it is difficult to determine the exact amount of NFT energy consumption.

It is estimated however that the fuel burned during an NFT creation to sale cycle would be enough to fuel a three-hour flight.

The biggest culprit behind the kilowatt consumption of the NFT process is the proof-of-work algorithm because a lot of miners are competing at the same time to verify the tokenization of the NFT.

Digital image of a crypto miner.

(Image: fszlai34)

This means that all the complex random algorithms are being solved at the same time, upping the NFT energy consumption. As only one miner can ‘win’ the process, the efforts and the energy consumed by the other miners go to waste.

The below table indicates NFT energy consumption compared to traditional energy consumption:

NFT Energy Usage: 263,538 kWh

NFT Emissions: 163,486 KgCO2

Equivalent to: An EU resident’s energy consumption over 77 years
Combined flights of 1.5 thousand hours
Petrol used over 838,000 kilometers (520,000 thousand miles)
The kettle boiled 3.5 million times
2,500 years of laptop use
636 years of computer use

In less than six months, a single artist’s multi-edition NFTs have created an NFT carbon footprint of 260 MWh and 160 tons of CO2 emissions.7

NFT Carbon Emissions

Over the lifespan of the average NFT, it will produce an estimated 211kg of CO2 into the environment. A tree offsets 60kg of CO2, which means it will require at least 3.52 trees to offset the emissions of an NFT.

In addition to this, secondary NFT sales produce 81kg of CO2, requiring another 1.35 trees to offset the carbon emissions.

Carbon Footprint NFT

The highest carbon footprints of NFTs take place in five different NFT collections. These are indicated as follows:8

NFT Collection CO2 Produced Number of Trees Required to Offset
CryptoKitties 240m kg of CO2 4 million trees
Sorare 35m kg of CO2 580,337 trees
Axie Infinity 27m kg of CO2 461,951 trees
Art Blocks 23.1m kg of CO2 385,451 trees
The Sandbox 11.6m kg of CO2 192,912 trees

NFT Carbon Footprint Calculator

To compare the carbon footprint of an NFT sale to that of a regular sale, the steps of each process must be considered.26

To calculate the carbon footprint of a physical sale, the following steps must be included in the calculation:

(The distances used here should be replaced with actual distances when calculating carbon costs).

Sale Steps Carbon Cost
Point and click sale 0.028 kg of CO2
Packaging the product 0.13 kg of CO2
Driving to the shipping depot 0.82 kg of CO2
Depot sends the package to the local hub 5 miles away 0.08 kg of CO2
The package is sent to an airport 10 miles away 0.08 kg of CO2
Flying to the main sorting facility 0.096 kg of CO2
Sorting and loaded onto another plane 0.05 kg of CO2
Flying to the purchaser’s city 1,800 miles away 0.22 kg of CO2
Transferring to the local hub 0.11 kg of CO2
Delivery 0.69 kg of CO2
Total emissions 2.304kg of CO2

The total emissions of a single physical sale are comparable to driving 5.6 miles in an average US gasoline-powered car.9

NFT Carbon Footprint Comparison

In comparison an NFT sale creates the following:

  • 23kg of CO2 per bid
  • 51kg of CO2 per sale
  • 30kg of CO2 per transfer

This indicates that over its lifecycle, an average NFT will accumulate an NFT carbon footprint of 211kg of CO2 which is the equivalent of driving 513 miles in an average US gasoline-powered car.

Carbon NFT

While it is not easy to estimate the carbon footprint for each step of an NFT’s life cycle, as can be done with the sale of a physical product, the total figures make it clear that the physical sale of a product as indicated above would have to recur at least 91 times to release the same carbon emissions as a single NFT sale.

At the same time, driving a car for 100 miles releases only 20% of the emissions that the average, single NFT sale does.

Are NFTs Only for Digital Art?

NFTs are not only used for digital art purposes.

NFT word with dark blue hexagonal pattern background.

(Image: Mo35)

There are several sectors that have adopted the use of NFT, including the following:

  • Logistics and supply chains
  • Branding and ticketing
  • Accessibility
  • Collectibles
  • Time
  •  Loans
  • Coupons
  • Memberships
  • Play-To-Earn
  • Virtual Accessories10

Why NFTs Are Bad for Artists?

While NFTs are immensely popular, the concept is highly conducive to art theft in addition to its high NFT carbon footprint.27 Additionally, there are several other reasons why NFTs are bad for artists:

  • Community issues

The modern method of using NFTs to buy and own art has increased the instances of theft, which is causing many users within artist communities to shut down their accounts to protect their assets.

  • Adaptation

On social media, published works of art may be shared which often leads to sales. On NFT platforms, works of art belong to the purchaser only, but the process is difficult to enforce as screenshots and downloads are not prohibited.

  • Environmental Damage

In 2018 it was estimated that during that single year, Ethereum mining consumed as much power as the whole of Iceland during the same period.

  • Art is Stolen

There is no process in place to prevent users from tokenizing each other’s work and claiming it as their own.

  • Speculative Pricing

Hardworking artists trying to earn a living via NFTs have no guarantee that they will be paid for their efforts. Often the prices offered for art on NFT platforms are far lower than what the artwork would sell for via another sales avenue.

  • NFTs can be used anywhere digitally

Once an NFT is purchased, the purchaser can use it anywhere digitally, which means negative connotations can surround the artist if the purchaser connects the artwork to the unpopular opinion written pieces or offensive materials.

  • The cost of entry is excessive

To mint, a single NFT can cost up to $600. For collection pieces, the cost can skyrocket to $9,000.11

NFT Art Carbon Footprint

In 2021 Christie’s auction house sold a digital piece of art for $69 million. The digital file that was sold contained 5,000 images. Along with the images came a massive NFT carbon footprint.

Cropped photo of Beeple Collection _ Every day: The First Five Thousand Days.

(Image: Massachusetts Institute of Technology CSAIL24)

A famous NFT named ‘Space Cat’, which features a cat in a rocket on his way to the moon in GIF format has a carbon footprint that is equivalent to an EU resident’s electricity consumption over eight weeks.

The average NFT artwork has a carbon footprint that is slightly slower than that of the Space Cat GIF, but each of them is still comparable to the energy consumption of the average person in the EU over four weeks.12

Environmental NFT Projects

Some NFT platforms are putting in the effort to reduce their NFT carbon footprint and the devastating effect NFT transactions have on the environment.28 The following 4 NFT projects are committed to conservation and sustainability:

  • ZooLife

ZooLife is the first virtual zoo live streaming around the world. It streams animals online into Spatial where the animals are displayed as they would be in a real-life zoo.

  • National Parks NFT

More than 1,800 outdoor enthusiasts form part of the National Parks NFT, where points earned for meets and trivia questions can be used to buy real National Park passes.

  • Sunken Blimp

This community-based NFT provides knowledge and tips on how to build innovative and energy-efficient structures that will last into the future.

  • Terrafor-Meta

The goal of Terrafor-Meta is to show off Earth from a bird’s eye view but above the atmosphere.

NFT Carbon Footprint

Along with the above-mentioned environmental NFT projects, several NFT platforms are evolving to provide solutions to their damaging NFT carbon footprint.

The following efforts are being made:

  • Carbon offsets

Several NFTs have voiced their intention to start tree-planting initiatives to offset the emissions produced via blockchain. Tree planting carbon offset programs, like one-month carbon offset, is some of the programs they can consider to help reduce the carbon emissions of NFT.

  • Green networks

Some crypto networks are aiming to switch to renewable energy, by encouraging NFT miners to establish their facilities in areas that use green energy. Furthermore, solar panels can also be installed to power said facilities.

  • Lazy or batch minting

Some NFTs encourage lazily or batch minting, which is a process where minting does not take place until after the NFT is sold.

  • PoS Mining

Proof of Stake mining can be used as an alternative to Proof of Work mining which causes high emissions. PoS mining makes use of the staking of crypto coins as opposed to using excessive computing power to mine.13

Creator of NFT Regrets

The first NFT was created by Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash in 2014 and Dash has since expressed regret about how the NFT craze has turned out.

Photo of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT.

(Image: Niranjan _ Photographs35)

Dash has explained that while the idea behind the NFT process was to help artists gain more control of their artwork and help them sell the artwork faster and via an easier process, it has turned out that going the NFT route has caused more exploitation instead of empowerment.14

Blockchain Carbon Footprint

As explained above, blockchain technology uses a lot of energy and the more cryptocurrencies thrive on these types of platforms, the worse the outcome for the environment.29

Bitcoin alone makes up half a percentage point of all electricity usage around the world. That means that Bitcoin’s energy consumption is equivalent to that of the entire country of Sweden. A single Bitcoin transaction produces the same amount of carbon emissions as 330,000 credit card transactions.15

The Carbon Footprint Of Bitcoin

It has been estimated that Bitcoin’s carbon footprint is between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.30 This is the equivalent of the levels of carbon dioxide emissions produced by Sri Lanka and Jordan during the same time period.16

Bitcoin Carbon Footprint Calculator

To calculate the total carbon emissions produced by bitcoin transactions, the following factors must be included in the calculations:

  • Start and end month (time period)
  • Total estimated carbon emissions per transaction during this time period
  • Estimated emissions per BTC when divided by the total amount of bitcoin that existed at the time.
  • The bitcoin that can be offset17

NFT Carbon Footprint

A simpler calculator contains three operating modes:

  • Energy footprint
  • Carbon footprint
  • Climate footprint

In the energy footprint mode, it can be calculated how much energy is required to generate a single dollar through a chosen cryptocurrency platform. In 2021, the energy required to generate $1 in bitcoin was enough to power a household for four hours.

In carbon footprint mode, the CO2 emissions can be calculated for any cryptocurrency, depending on location.

In climate footprint mode, the calculator estimates the damages to the climate in the US currency.18

Ethereum CO2 Emissions per Year

Before the long-awaited Ethereum merge was completed in 2022, the blockchain network’s annual CO2 emissions were estimated to be over 11 million tons.31

Photo of an Ethereum coin with the chess pieces as its background.

(Image: Kanchanara35)

After the merge, it has been confirmed that Ethereum’s annual carbon footprint has been reduced by 99,99% and that the annual CO2 emissions are now under 870, which is less than the combined total of 100 average US households.

Before the merger, Ethereum’s overall energy demand was 23 million megawatt hours per annum, and it is estimated that its energy demand is 2,600 megawatt hours per annum.19

Ethereum Energy Consumption Chart

The following table indicates the worldwide energy consumption between May 2017 and September 2022.20

Characteristic Estimated TWh per Year Minimum TWh per Year
Sep 21, 2022 0.01 0
Sep 20, 2022 0.01 0
Sep 19, 2022 0.01 0
Sep 18, 2022 0.01 0
Sep 17, 2022 0.01 0
Sep 16, 2022 0.01 0
Sep 15, 2022 3.4 0.6
Sep 14, 2022 77.77 14.62
Sep 13, 2022 80.06 15.31
Sep 12, 2022 82.78 15.31
Sep 02, 2022 78.59 15.77
Sep 01, 2022 77.14 15.31
Aug 2022 78.4 15.34
Jul 2022 86.35 15.71
Jun 2022 47.31 14.1
May 2022 93.97 17.84
Apr 2022 93.98 18.33
Mar 2022 92.12 17.44
Feb 2022 89.27 17.09
Jan 2022 86.62 16.94
Dec 2021 103.42 15.84
Nov 2021 93.75 14.2
Oct 2021 83.31 13.58
Sep 2021 75 12.24
Aug 2021 66.95 11.38
Jul 2021 59.24 9.19
Jun 2021 53.77 8.33
May 2021 48.37 10.28
Apr 2021 40.71 9.92
Mar 2021 31.45 8.3
Feb 2021 24.26 7.14
Jan 2021 17 5.87
Dec 2020 14.64 5.02
Nov 2020 12.87 4.93
Oct 2020 11.58 4.5
Sep 2020 10.49 4.29
Aug 2020 8.83 3.41
Jul 2020 7.69 2.97
Jun 2020 7.52 2.93
May 2020 7.84 2.89
Apr 2020 7.77 2.83
Mar 2020 7.62 2.75
Feb 2020 8 2.88
Jan 2020 7.33 2.57
Dec 2019 8.14 2.4
Nov 2019 8.35 2.75
Oct 2019 8.08 2.95
Sep 2019 7.66 3.03
Aug 2019 7.23 2.78
Jul 2019 7.12 2.78
Jun 2019 7.04 2.72
May 2019 7.12 2.61
Apr 2019 7.35 2.39
Mar 2019 9.44 2.16
Feb 2019 9.13 2.47
Jan 2019 7.24 2.77
Dec 2018 9.63 4.03
Nov 2018 9.59 5.08
Oct 2018 18.94 7.94
Sep 2018 19.17 9.67
Aug 2018 20.55 11.67
Jul 2018 20.73 12.55
Jun 2018 20.86 12.72
May 2018 19.72 11.91
Apr 2018 18.09 12.82
Mar 2018 16.81 13.95
Feb 2018 14.98 14.24
Jan 2018 13.03 12.84
Dec 2017 9.56 9.56
Nov 2017 10.89 8.88
Oct 2017 9.34 8.39
Sep 2017 4.64 4.64
Aug 2017 4.98 4.98
Jul 2017 4.89 4.89
Jun 2017 4.41 4.41
May 2017 2.73 2.62
Sep 14, 2022 77.77 14.62

NFT Carbon Footprint

These statistics show that Ethereum has indeed reduced its NFT carbon footprint by 99,99%, and it is being referred to as the biggest decarbonization in the history of technology.2,32

Ethereum Carbon Footprint

Ethereum is now known as a green blockchain after the merge and the switch to proof-of-stake methods. The following graph indicates Ethereum’s expected annual energy consumption compared to other platforms:22

Ethereum Carbon Footprint Calculator

Blockchain carbon footprint calculators can be used to determine the NFT carbon footprint of blockchain technology and to establish the desired offsets.

A man holding a sticky note with the word blockchain written on it.

(Image: Hitesh Choudhary35)

Some Ethereum carbon footprint calculators are simple and only require the following information:

  • NFT address
  • Start and end dates

This will calculate the entire carbon footprint of a user on Ethereum between the start and end dates. Some carbon footprint calculators also allow for the calculation of offsetting the carbon emissions as calculated before.23,33

Read More About: Carbon Credit Stocks vs Carbon Capture Stocks (Don’t Fall for It)

There is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to reducing NFT carbon footprints around the world, and many of these platforms would do well to follow the example of Ethereum to reduce their own NFT carbon footprint.

Frequently Asked Questions About NFT Carbon Footprint

What Is Carbon Credit Exchange?

Carbon credit exchange refers to the process of purchasing credits to make up for the amount of carbon emissions released. This means that when an organization purchases a carbon credit, it can offset one ton of its CO2 emissions.

What Are Carbon Credit Stocks?

Carbon credit stocks have been established to allow organizations to buy or sell emissions permits, supposedly with the goal of lowering CO2 emissions.

What Are Carbon Credit Brokers?

Carbon credit brokers are essentially the middlemen between buyers and sellers in the marketplace.

What Is an NFT Carbon Footprint?

An NFT carbon footprint refers to the amount of CO2 emitted during NFT transactions and mining.

Read More About NFT Carbon Footprint Calculators


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