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Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are seemingly everywhere (and, by nature, nowhere all at once). They’re being used in the cryptosphere for everything from collectibles exchange to real estate and even for counterfeiting in more nefarious cases. 

The most popular use for NFTs remains in the art sphere, with a large majority of NFTs falling somewhere on the art-related spectrum. NFTs have transformed a corner of the art world, remodeling how art is being bought and sold. However, they’ve also influenced the kinds of art viewed as valuable and shifted global focus to unexpected artists and motives.

Currently, CryptoArt is carving a path toward NFTs with a purpose. Recent trends are pointing toward an effort to counter climate change while simultaneously charging toward a more sustainable digital economy. 

Perhaps one of the reasons climate-positive NFTs are drawing so much attention is that crypto exchange, particularly regarding NFTs, is far from environmentally friendly. While it’s true that no physical waste is created in the exchange and sale of NFTs, the amount of energy consumed by the blockchains on which they’re issued and traded is immense. The vast amounts of power needed to operate energy-intensive blockchains like Ethereum make the process of minting and trading NFTs less than sustainable, creating a climate culpable carbon intensity.

The energy expenditure created by NFT trading is hardly the driving force behind climate change, though it doesn’t help. However, if the tokens are traded on blockchains that require less energy usage, climate-positive NFTs have the potential to become a significant source of climate relief. 

The digital artist Beeple is leading the charge for climate-positive NFTs. Alongside other digital artists, including Andres Resigner, Refik Anadol, Sara Ludy, and Kyle Gordon, they’re pursuing a project to support sustainability and climate rescue. The Social Alpha Foundation (SAF) provides blockchain education and awareness, funding promising projects that accelerate the use of blockchain technology for social good. 

SAF is also using its resources to build the case for crypto philanthropy, auctioning NFT work donated by the collective artists. This auction is known and trending in the NFT universe as the #CarbonDrop. All proceeds of those auctions go directly to the Open Earth Foundation, which focuses on creating digital architecture and infrastructure to support and scale climate action. 

CarbonDrop also features a specific fundraiser, supported by the RNDR token, whose parent product ‘Octane’ powers most NFT graphics. The fundraiser offers up “500 tons of carbon offsets” in the form of unique NFTs, generating funds directed toward preserving the Amazon rainforest and fighting deforestation.

Organizations like the Social Alpha Foundation and Open Earth Foundation are the lifeblood and driving force behind climate-positive NFTs. While the actual exchange of “climate-positive NFTs” is less than ideal in terms of energy expenditure, the driving force behind them is one of goodwill. 

Good intentions aside, climate-positive NFTs and those inspiring their growth still have quite a ways to go (but at least we’re headed in the right direction). As long as Proof of Work blockchains continue to be the primary platform for crypto exchange or NFT minting and trading, the funds raised in the name of carbon sequestration feel like little more than a bandaid on a broken pipe. 

The immature NFT market still has some time to build even more momentum in the direction of climate preservation. These early efforts to use the NFT craze for such a smart and positive purpose are promising. If the brains and organizations behind the movement keep pace, we might be looking at the following key to fundraising in the name of sustainability.