Statement from Helen-Spence Jackson, Associate Vice President, European Strategy and Engagement
(BRUSSELS — Sep. 22, 2022) The European Commission yesterday approved €5.2 billion in subsidies for hydrogen projects. Recently released research from Environmental Defense Fund outlines the risks of hydrogen’s near-term adverse climate impacts if not carefully deployed.
“European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen noted in her State of the Union speech last week that ‘hydrogen can be a game changer for Europe’. This has been followed up yesterday by an announcement of an EU wide hydrogen decarbonization project winning Commission approval for €5.2 billion in subsidies, which will be deployed to integrate hydrogen in energy intensive industries, such as steel, cement and glass. Deploying hydrogen in these energy intensive industries could be a critical way of helping the EU to meet its goal of being climate neutral by 2050. But it’s imperative that we get this right from the start.
“Environmental Defense Fund’s new research on hydrogen’s warming impacts examines hydrogen’s potent warming effects that are widely overlooked and lays out recommendations for ensuring that hydrogen can achieve its promised environmental benefits.
“Although hydrogen emits no carbon dioxide when either burned or used in a fuel cell, it has an indirect, but powerful warming effect when leaked into the atmosphere, where it increases the amounts of other greenhouse gases (i.e. methane, ozone and water vapour). If leakage of both hydrogen and methane is high, blue hydrogen could actually increase the 20-year warming impact compared to the fossil fuel it replaces. While still better for the climate, even green hydrogen would fail to meet its climate-neutral promise if leaks are not managed.
“This research shows that under the right circumstances – with appropriate well-designed and managed systems -- hydrogen can be part of a clean energy transition. Now that we are on the cusp of a massive global buildout of hydrogen, with the hydrogen economy moving from niche to scale, we must collectively focus on getting it right.
Helen Spence-Jackson Associate Vice President, Environmental Defense Fund Europe
One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseEuro