The #CarbonDrop: A Climate Statement

Open Earth Foundation
6 min readMar 26, 2021


Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Art Auction on Nifty Gateway, March 20 to 22, 2021

The #CarbonDrop NFT Art auction and fundraising event closed on Monday, March 22, raising a total of $6.6 million dollars. Wow! This was unexpected and unprecedented with many artists achieving record sales. We are deeply humbled to be the beneficiaries of these funds, and inspired to steward them to the highest positive impact for our planet.

We are extremely grateful to everyone that made the #CarbonDrop possible! To the artists who donated the proceeds from their work and trusted our climate vision, to the Social Alpha Foundation who had the idea for the event and gathered the network to make it happen, to Nifty Gateway that hosted the auction, supported our climate voice and waived all platform fees, to Render Token for supporting the offsetting and Octane services, and to the many other collaborators that supported the initiative, including the auction winners like Justin Sun.

While a young non for profit, Open Earth Foundation is building on decades of experience from its small team with robust expertise in climate policy, law, social impact, clean technology, sustainable development and frontier technology.

We share not only a vision of scaling proven technologies that build out climate solutions, but a commitment to open collaboration with a global community of innovators, international organizations, universities, government agencies and not for profits. We owe much to the organizations with whom our team has been collaborating throughout the years including the United Nations, the World Bank, Yale University, MIT, Linux Foundation and a large and growing network of entities with whom we’ve been working in the intersection of blockchain and climate, such as the Climate Chain Coalition.

We have received requests from people wanting to learn more, about our climate approach for the event, about Open Earth and its mission, about the fundraise use of proceeds, and about how more artists can support initiatives like this. We hope this post helps you!

Note: Not sure what is a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is? Maybe check this article.

The Climate Approach for the NFT Art Drop

Read the climate language at

CryptoArt and NFTs have an impact on climate if the underlying blockchain used for minting is based on energy consuming Proof-of-Work (PoW). In the case of this first #CarbonDrop, our platform of choice was Nifty Gateway, which mints its NFT on Ethereum, a PoW blockchain. This crux naturally produced the need to have a robust climate strategy since, an NFT Art auction inspired around climate change should not have a net impact on the climate, and should help spread carbon awareness.

Our climate strategy for the drop was based on four main pillars which are quite standard in the climate space:

1. Reduce emissions, 2. Disclose on climate, 3. Inform & Motivate, 4. Compensate

1. Reduce emissions

The #CarbonDrop was done entirely as single editions, meaning there was only one NFT for each artwork. This is different from Open Editions, which mint multiple items of the same artwork. This reduced emissions significantly, because it reduced the amount of Ethereum transactions to just 8 (one for each art). As a result we reduced the impact from 70–100 CO2e tons to just 1 ton.

2. Disclose language on climate

We included a whole section on the website explaining the impact that a drop has, where to learn more about the carbon impact of blockchains, why offsets are an important tool but not the ultimate solution, and suggestions for everyone that wants to take climate action and replicate the strategy.

3. Inform & motivate others

In our case, the main actor of climate relevance for the drop was Nifty Gateway. Nifty Gateway was and is very aware and conscious of the indirect carbon impact their platform produces. They are, in fact, adjusting their smart contract to reduce the impact of open editions. This adjustment was not ready by the time of the auction, primarily due to extra software engineering work to change a smart contract on a live, fully operational platform dealing with third party funds. Nevertheless, we coordinated with the organizers and suggested 7 steps that Nifty Gateway (applicable to any NFT platform) can do to improve their climate performance going forward. They were open to these suggestions and are actively considering these actions.

4. Compensate

Whilst the drop had an impact of roughly 1 CO2e ton, it was important to compensate this impact with emission reductions elsewhere. Thanks to the idea and sponsorship from RNDR, 500 CO2e tons offsets were purchased, turned into trackable NFTs themselves, and cryptographically linked to the NFT art itself. This was engineered by

Carbon offsets can bring a tangible value in the fight against climate change, but are not the ultimate solution. Buying carbon offsets does not allow us to continue business-as-usual emitting activities in a sustainable way.

Its critical for everyone to understand this. Its also important to not de-motivate people from offsetting, we want to encourage offsetting, but it needs to be done responsibly.

#CarbonDrop Use of Proceeds

No, the #CarbonDrop’s proceeds are not destined for offsetting the emissions of the entire NFT industry. This was misinformation generated by one news article (now corrected) that unfortunately generated confusion.

The Open Earth Foundation launched the #CarbonDrop alongside Social Alpha to fund its programs and operations on climate innovation for the next two years. This primarily falls on supporting the Open Climate project, the Collabathon events, and the Open Solar/Open Finance project; all of which are described at the Open Earth website. These project ideas were initially incubated at the Yale Open Innovation Lab, and the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative. These are highly validated projects. The research behind Open Climate, for example, was recognized and granted by the National Science Foundation; USA #1 scientific body.

Furthermore, the #CarbonDrop had a specific funding target in mind going into it. Its detailed plan was shared with all artists and project sponsors prior to the auction. This key project has not been publicly announced yet, but we will be doing so in the coming months as we organize efforts with key stakeholder.

Essentially, this focus project entails applying the Open Climate framework to design and build open digital infrastructure for an Independent Climate Accounting Network in support of the Global Stock Take of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement. This is the heart of the accountability process of the international negotiations. It currently lacks technological preparedness and it does not contemplate the full power that emerging digital technologies like Internet-of-Things, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence can bring to the process. This is a gap we are committed to fill.

Simplified Open Climate principle for climate accounting integration of both state and non-state actor data and pledge accountability.

Next Steps

Let’s get started! We are extremely excited about the opportunity to launch in full speed on such a critical year for climate. With COP26 ahead of us, we have much work to do. Thanks to the incredible generosity and support of the artists and event sponsors, the #CarbonDrop has made the Open Earth Foundation’s journey and systems based approach possible.

We will be posting more information of our work, use of proceeds and keep the world informed. We are open at heart. We abide and uphold article 13 of the Paris Agreement: Transparency.



Open Earth Foundation

A not for profit harnessing emerging digital technologies & radical collaboration to innovate, deploy & scale concrete systemic solutions at a planetary level