On Tuesday, 18 October 2022, the European Commission (“the Commission”) published a communication setting out an EU Action Plan for Digitalising the Energy System. Amongst initiatives focussed on improving the functioning of the EU’s energy markets, such as the creation of a common European energy data space, improving strategic European coordination for energy markets, promoting investments in digital electricity infrastructure and enhancing consumer protection, as well as strengthening cybersecurity and resilience in the energy system, the Commission looks at addressing energy consumption of the ICT system. In this context, alongside measures addressed at data centres and cloud services, the Commission will consider energy consumption of crypto-assets.
Noting significant growth of global electricity consumption by crypto-assets, in particular linked with the application of the proof-of-work consensus mechanism, the Commission is of the view that international cooperation is needed to tackle the issue of the high energy consumption of proof-of-work mining in “a globally impactful way”. International cooperation will also be required to develop an energy-efficiency label for blockchains.
In terms of its own planned initiatives, the Commission will develop a report by 2025 that includes a description of the environmental and climate impact of new technologies in the crypto-asset market. The report will include an assessment of policy options to mitigate adverse impacts on the climate of technologies used in the crypto-asset market, in particular in relation to consensus mechanisms. The report will complement the disclosures that crypto-asset market participants will have to make in respect of principal adverse environmental and climate-related impacts of crypto-assets, as mandated by the recently adopted Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation. In the meantime, and in light of the current energy crisis, the Commission calls on Member States to implement targeted and proportionate measures to lower the electricity consumption of crypto-asset miners and to put an end to tax breaks and other fiscal measures benefiting crypto-miners that are currently in place in certain Member States. The Commission is also of the view that in case a need for load-shedding in the electricity systems occurs, Member States must be ready to stop crypto-assets mining.