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Over the previous few years, hydrogen has been remodeled right into a cornerstone of EU vitality coverage. But, oil and gasoline majors are profiting from the EU’s unrealistic targets for inexperienced hydrogen with the intention to sneak fossil-based hydrogen in via the again door, Belén Balanyá writes.
A take a look at the highest 100 highest spenders on EU lobbying reveals that the hydrogen foyer is especially extravagant, shelling out a whopping €75.75 million per 12 months.
To provide some context, that is considerably greater than what large tech (€43.5m) and massive finance (€38.75m) declare within the high 100 for his or her annual foyer spending.
The rating sheds some mild on the IEA’s newly launched figures exhibiting that an astounding 99% of worldwide produced hydrogen is constructed from fossil fuels. Sure, we’re speaking about the exact same fossil fuels which can be stoking the local weather disaster.
In 2022, the whole international hydrogen manufacturing of 95 million tonnes (Mt) was accountable for over 900 Mt of carbon emissions. This exceeded the practically 800 Mt that was emitted by the complete international aviation business.
Though the EU’s targets for inexperienced hydrogen are trumpeted with nice fanfare — 20 million tonnes per 12 months by 2030 — the actual fact is that present inexperienced hydrogen manufacturing world wide stays negligible. In 2022, lower than 0.1% of worldwide hydrogen (lower than 0.08 million tonnes) was produced from renewable electrical energy.
Over the previous few years, hydrogen has been remodeled right into a cornerstone of EU vitality coverage. Let’s look behind the scenes to see who’s making the most of at present’s inflated targets, huge subsidies and assist schemes.
Meet Huge Hydrogen
Unsurprisingly, oil and gasoline majors like Shell, Whole, ExxonMobil, BP, Equinor and their foyer teams determine on the listing of the highest 100 spenders on EU lobbying, drawn from LobbyFacts knowledge.
These pursuits, absolutely conscious that hydrogen will proceed to be principally fossil-based within the coming years, have efficiently hyped hydrogen as a silver bullet resolution to the local weather disaster. They’re profiting from the EU’s unrealistic targets for inexperienced hydrogen with the intention to sneak fossil-based hydrogen in via the again door.
They’re constructing on their marketing campaign to promote the so-called “blue” hydrogen — produced from fossil fuels, primarily gasoline, with a part of the carbon emissions “captured” — as clear.
Though it’s usually described as a low-carbon, low-emissions, and even CO2-neutral gasoline, blue hydrogen is a local weather killer.
The truth is, when their whole CO2 and methane emissions are added up, the local weather footprint of blue and different fossil hydrogen is bigger than the direct burning of fossil fuels. But it has grow to be a lifeline for the fossil gas business.
Different polluting industries with a vested curiosity within the hydrogen financial system have additionally jumped on the bandwagon, together with chemical and fertiliser companies reminiscent of BASF, Dow, and Yara, and massive gamers from the transport sector like BMW and the highly effective ACEA automobile foyer.
Producers together with Siemens and Bosch are alongside for the journey, as is the influential Hydrogen Europe foyer group.
Within the more and more pressing context of the local weather disaster, the hydrogen hype presents an ideal cowl for polluting firms.
Why scale back site visitors, or transition to agroecological farming, or decommission fossil gasoline pipelines when hydrogen means that you can proceed your soiled enterprise?
The slippery slope in the direction of neo-colonialism
The continuation of the fossil gas period is just not the one threat posed by the hydrogen hype. The EU’s hydrogen plans deepen neo-colonial extractivist practices, together with the large-scale appropriation in producing nations of land, water, and vitality that would in any other case be used to fulfill native electrical energy wants.
in a brand new report by Company Europe Observatory, we take a look at tasks with a deliberate manufacturing capability of greater than 1 gigawatt of inexperienced hydrogen. We discovered that 41 of the proposed 109 tasks are deliberate in nations already going through excessive water stress, together with Spain, Namibia, Chile and Morocco.
Based on business figures, the manufacturing course of consumes round 10 litres of ultra-pure water (requiring 20-30 litres of seawater or 12-13 litres of contemporary water) for each produced kilogram of hydrogen.
This locations further calls for on water in a context the place meals manufacturing and ingesting water are already underneath stress.
The wind and photo voltaic farms wanted for the hydrogen financial system additionally require huge areas of land. For instance, with an space of 8,500 km2, the Aman undertaking in Mauritania — one of many world’s greatest deliberate inexperienced hydrogen tasks — covers extra territory than many international megacities.
Moreover, lots of the nations that the EU considers as potential candidates for hydrogen imports produce little inexperienced vitality.
For instance, within the Gulf nations, lower than 1% of the electrical energy got here from renewables in 2022 (the exception is the United Arab Emirates, with 4.5%).
A imaginative and prescient away from the resource-grabbing company financial system of at present
For related causes, the African Individuals’s Local weather and Improvement Declaration, signed by over 500 African civil society teams in September 2023, rejects inexperienced hydrogen as a “false resolution”, stating that “inexperienced hydrogen for export does nothing to extend entry for the 600 million Africans with out entry to vitality. As an alternative, it turns our African renewable vitality into an exportable commodity and ships our vitality abroad.”
This isn’t to say that there isn’t a position for inexperienced hydrogen. Mohamed Adow, who leads the local weather assume tank Energy Shift Africa, outlines what he considers as a “socially, ecologically and economically applicable use of hydrogen” in Africa: “small to medium scale, for home use (not for export), not in water-stressed areas, and to provide fertilisers for meals sovereignty fairly than for money crops for export”.
His imaginative and prescient couldn’t be farther from the resource-grabbing and corporate-controlled hydrogen financial system at the moment underneath development within the EU.
But, plainly no one is listening to him, or many others who may need a a lot more healthy, resilient, and aware imaginative and prescient for our joint future.
Belén Balanyá is a researcher and campaigner with Company Europe Observatory, a non-profit analysis and marketing campaign group aiming to reveal any results of company lobbying on EU policymaking.
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