As the international community gathers for climate talks, a spotlight is cast on the intricate alliance between the European Union (EU), the European hydrogen lobby, and the host country of COP28, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Corporate Europe Observatory’s latest paper, titled “COP28 Push for Hydrogen: a Gift to the Fossil Fuel Industry,” lays bare the collusion driving the push for a lucrative hydrogen market.

The paper reveals the central role of hydrogen in the strategy of major oil and gas players to capitalize on purported low-carbon technologies while continuing fossil fuel extraction. Crafted in collaboration with global consultancies like McKinsey, COP28 is poised to promote hydrogen as a silver bullet against climate change, aligning with the interests of the fossil fuel industry.

Hydrogen Europe (HE), a leading European hydrogen lobby group, emerges as a key player in establishing deals for hydrogen imports and securing raw materials for European industry. The lobby facilitated a significant EU-Egypt hydrogen deal during COP27 and is now seeking public funds for entities like the Suez Canal and the Port of Rotterdam in the lead-up to COP28.

Documents obtained by Corporate Europe Observatory expose the extent of the European Commission’s active solicitation of Hydrogen Europe’s involvement. The Commission’s DG INTPA facilitated meetings and communications, demonstrating a close relationship between the EU body and the hydrogen lobby.

COP28’s agenda outlines ambitious goals to double global hydrogen production to 180 million tonnes annually by 2030. Shockingly, data from the International Energy Agency reveals that 99% of hydrogen produced in 2022 was derived from fossil fuels, contributing to a carbon footprint exceeding 900 million tonnes. The increased target raises concerns about a surge in fossil-based hydrogen production and its environmental impact.

The International Hydrogen Trade Forum (ITHF), set to convene for the first time at COP28, is led by the UAE and the Netherlands. The Hydrogen Council, a prominent hydrogen lobby, plays a significant role in the ITHF, advocating for inflated hydrogen targets and promoting the development of new pipelines for transporting hypothetical ‘clean’ hydrogen over long distances.

The upcoming COP28 summit, with Hydrogen Council’s chief lobbyist Daria Nochevnik as a special advisor on hydrogen to the COP28 Presidency, is poised to become a platform for major polluters and governments to strike hydrogen deals. This diverts attention and resources away from genuine climate crisis solutions.

Belén Balanyá, a campaigner and researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory, emphasizes the EU’s role in driving the global hydrogen push and calls for an immediate halt to new fossil fuel projects, advocating for a rapid phase-out of production.

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