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COP28 introduces hydrogen standards amid debate on environmental impact

At the COP28 summit made unveiling of a new methodology to gauge greenhouse gas emissions from hydrogen production

By groundreportdesk
New Update
COP28 introduces hydrogen standards amid debate on environmental impact

At the COP28 summit, a significant stride was made with the unveiling of a new methodology to gauge greenhouse gas emissions from hydrogen production, courtesy of the United Arab Emirates and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

However, this development has sparked a debate. Critics argue that the methodology might unintentionally suggest that hydrogen sourced from fossil fuels is as environmentally sound as clean hydrogen, potentially masking the true environmental impact—a phenomenon known as greenwashing.

ISO hydrogen methodology lacks emissions limits

The ISO’s methodology is designed to assess the greenhouse gas emissions throughout hydrogen’s life cycle, from production to delivery. While it’s been welcomed as a step forward in acknowledging the environmental footprint of hydrogen production, the absence of explicit emissions limits has left a gap, making it difficult for policymakers to distinguish between genuinely clean hydrogen and that produced from polluting sources.

In line with COP28’s goals, ISO introduced new clean hydrogen standards aimed at hastening hydrogen’s commercialization and contributing to the global mission of capping the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. These standards are part of an intergovernmental declaration on the mutual recognition of certification schemes for hydrogen and its derivatives, potentially impacting over 80% of the projected global hydrogen market.

Furthermore, ISO’s methodology sets a global standard for calculating greenhouse gas emissions across hydrogen’s entire life cycle through life cycle analysis. A Public-Private Action Statement was also announced, focusing on the potential for cross-border hydrogen trade, in partnership with the International Hydrogen Trade Forum (IHTF) and the Hydrogen Council.

ISO hydrogen standard raises concerns

Ministerial discussions at COP28 highlighted hydrogen’s vital role as an energy vector, with the potential to cut 60 to 80 gigatonnes of CO2 by 2050, significantly aiding the global decarbonization efforts.

Despite these advancements, the ISO’s hydrogen standard has raised concerns among scientists and climate activists about the possibility of muddling the definition of ‘clean’ hydrogen. The methodology’s lack of a clear emissions threshold could lead to the greenwashing of environmentally detrimental hydrogen.

Marta Lovisolo, a senior policy advisor at Bellona Europa, expressed concerns that the responsibility now falls on individual countries to define ‘clean’ hydrogen, which could result in a complex and disjointed hydrogen trade landscape. Luisa Kessler from Bellona Deutschland also voiced disappointment, noting the missed opportunity to align the hydrogen standard with genuine climate needs due to the omission of emissions limits.

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