Hydrogen: MEPs mistake all types for a climate solution

Posted on 19 May 2021

Today the European Parliament approved a report which would prolong the use of oil, coal and gas, despite the huge climate damage they do.
MEPs voted in plenary for "low-carbon hydrogen" - made with fossil fuels - to be recognised by the European Commission as eligible for public funding as a “bridging technology”[1]. This sends a dangerous signal that hydrogen from fossil fuels is a climate solution, when in fact only hydrogen made from renewable energy can help decarbonise. 

What’s more, renewable hydrogen is only a solution in certain sectors which can’t be electrified like aviation, shipping and some energy intensive industries (steel, basic chemicals).

MEPs were voting on a report which has no legislative weight, but which is their reaction to the European Commission’s hydrogen strategy of July 2020. However, their position sends an important signal to Member States, many of which have included hydrogen in their draft recovery plans as a “climate-friendly” investment.

Camille Maury, policy officer at WWF European Policy Officsaid, 
“MEPs got this wrong. So-called ‘low-carbon’ ‘bridging technology’ hydrogen is a high-carbon bridge to nowhere. Governments must ensure they support only hydrogen from wind and solar power in sectors which can’t use electricity - like aviation, shipping, chemicals and steel”. 

More positively, MEPs rejected the proposal to include hydrogen made from fossil fuels in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). This risks promoting polluting fossil fuels rather than getting them replaced by clean energy sources. If the Commission wishes to certify non-renewable hydrogen, it should do it through a separate legislation. 

MEPs also endorsed the concept of renewable hydrogen coming from additional wind and solar power capacity, which is critical to avoid undermining electrification. 

The parliament debate on low-carbon hydrogen, and whether it should receive public funds, mirrored ongoing discussions between Member States and in fora such as the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance. 

“Today’s investments determine our energy mix for decades to come. Supporting fossil-based hydrogen takes resources away from renewables-based hydrogen and other more efficient decarbonisation solutions like electrification and energy efficiency. We have to get this right now to achieve climate neutrality on time,” concluded Maury.

Contact: 
Camille Maury,
Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office,

cmaury@wwf.eu 

Sarah Azau,
Communications Manager, WWF European Policy Office,
sazau@wwf.eu 
Tel: +32 473 573 137 

  
Notes:   
[1] Low-carbon hydrogen can refer to either fossil-based hydrogen with CCS or hydrogen produced with electricity from a grid that is yet to be fully decarbonised (including grids with a high share of nuclear power).   
A hydrogen bus in Reykavik, Iceland.
© Global Warming Images / WWF
Don't believe the hydrogen hot air! Why only renewable hydrogen, in certain sectors, can help decarbonise.
© WWF EPO / JQ&Ros