It was hoped that the collection of 10 endangered species would help raise funds for the charity's conservation work — but critics said the sale was at odds with its eco-friendly credentials.
The WWF has abruptly pulled the plug on its sale of "non-fungible animals" after a backlash.
On its website, the WWF had attempted to assuage these fears by proclaiming that it uses the "environmentally friendly" Polygon blockchain — and that a single transaction has a carbon footprint that equates to a glass of tap water.
Alas, naysayers weren't buying it. One of them said the WWF's move was "astonishingly stupid," while Dr Catherine Flick tweeted:
"Polygon is not an eco-friendly blockchain. Anything that relies on Ethereum perpetuates Ethereum. You've been duped."
The main concern lies in how all transactions that take place on Polygon end up being registered on Ethereum — and figures from Digiconomist suggest this network has an annual power consumption that's equivalent to The Netherlands, with a carbon footprint that's comparable to Singapore.
WWF Bows Out with Non-Apology
After the sale attracted some rather unwelcome column inches, the WWF announced it was changing course with something of a non-apology. A statement posted on its website thanked those who had made a purchase — and said the trial was coming to a close, adding:
"We recognize that NFTs are 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."
A number of charities have faced scrutiny for their decision to accept cryptocurrencies as a donation method.
The Wikimedia Foundation accepts Bitcoin, Ether and Bitcoin Cash — but contributors have argued that this amounts to an endorsement of digital assets despite their impact on the environment. A contributor also expressed fears that this could cause reputational damage.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit organization Mozilla — which runs the Firefox browser — has temporarily suspended accepting crypto donations after one of its own co-founders launched a blistering attack on Twitter. Jamie Zawinski had tweeted:
"I founded @mozilla and I'm here to say f*** you and f*** this. Everyone involved in the project should be witheringly ashamed of this decision to partner with planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters."