In a landmark summit in St. John’s, Canadian and European leaders formalized a new “green alliance” with a focus on collaborative efforts to combat climate change. The strategic choice of Newfoundland and Labrador as the summit venue reflects the region’s pivotal role in burgeoning green hydrogen and critical minerals industries.
While the specifics of the alliance are framed as cooperative measures in the fight against climate change, federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan emphasized the significant attention directed at Newfoundland and Labrador, stating, “Big money, big players are eyeing this province.”
Newfoundland and Labrador currently boast five active green hydrogen proposals, each involving multi-billion-dollar investments, primarily targeted at European markets. European Council President Charles Michel underscored the importance of green hydrogen in the global context, calling it a crucial piece in the “global puzzle.”
A major challenge identified during the summit is the development of supply chains for green hydrogen and critical minerals essential for lithium batteries. In response, the leaders agreed on a “roadmap” for the development of a green hydrogen market, aiming to address the growing demand and supply sides.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted the EU’s commitment to supporting the shift to green hydrogen, even launching a “hydrogen bank” with a $1.2 billion fund to subsidize production costs. While currently open to European businesses, the fund is set to extend its support to Canadian producers in the near future.
Von der Leyen stressed the competitive nature of the initiative, explaining, “Show me your product, and the most cost-effective products I will give the money for the green premium that is on top — the extra cost that you have for being green hydrogen.”
In a move to secure critical raw minerals, the European Commission proposed the establishment of a global “critical raw minerals club,” fostering trade relations and creating reliable supply chains among participating countries, including Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador, rich in critical materials like nickel, copper, and cobalt, stands as a potential key player in this initiative.
As Minister O’Regan summarized, “We have what Europe needs, and Europe is the partner that we need,” emphasizing the mutually beneficial nature of the alliance. The outcomes of this collaboration could significantly shape the future of green energy in Newfoundland and Labrador and contribute to global efforts for a sustainable energy transition.