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Meta to offset use of NFTs by ‘buying renewable energy’

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) come with a substantial carbon footprint. And while NFTs are yet another hot new trend that Meta seems eager to jump on, the technology conglomerate has apparently tempered its zeal with valid concerns about sustainability and its recent entrance into the world of digital assets.

On Tuesday, Meta issued a statement that offered a closer look at how NFTs will be incorporated into its photo and video sharing platform, Instagram. But amid all of the colorful screenshots of its limited-release NFT sharing feature, Meta did attempt to address the ecological-impact elephant in the room.

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A pair of Instagram mobile screenshots showing off its new NFT sharing feature, all on a colorful background.

In the statement, Meta acknowledged that “blockchain technology and NFTs raise important questions on sustainability” and said that it plans to buy renewable energy as a way to “reduce the emissions impact that might be associated with the display of digital collectibles on Instagram.”

Then Meta added a link to a webpage dedicated to its sustainability endeavors. Beyond that, Meta did not provide much more detail about how much renewable energy it will purchase in response to the emissions impact of displaying (and popularizing) the creation and consumption of NFTs.

What we do know, based on what we saw on Meta’s sustainability website, is that Meta does indeed have a history of purchasing renewable energy as it currently has “contracts in place for more than 6.1 gigawatts of wind and solar energy across 18 states and five countries.”

Furthermore, Meta has said that its data centers are powered by “over 3.4 gigawatts of operating renewable energy projects.” So it is possible that Instagram’s parent company will make good on its promise to offset the carbon footprint of Instagram’s latest NFT-friendly feature.

Instagram’s new NFT sharing feature itself is expected to begin testing this week with a limited number of users in the U.S. and will involve linking Instagram accounts with a digital wallet, being able to display NFTs on a user’s profile, and the NFT posts themselves will feature “a shimmer effect” and “automatic tagging of both the creator and collector.”

At this time, the only blockchains supported by the feature are Ethereum and Polygon. Other blockchains, like Flow and Solana, will come later. Wallets that are currently compatible with the NFT feature include MetaMask, Trust Wallet, and Rainbow. Coinbase, Dapper, and Phantom are listed as “coming soon.”

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