Don’t fall for the hydrogen hype, urge Friends of the Earth International

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Press release. Tuesday 21 November 2023. Amsterdam –

Hydrogen is a dangerous distraction from the urgent and equitable renewable energy transition, says Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) in a new position paper.

As decision-makers and lobbyists meet for European Hydrogen Week (20-24.11 in Brussels) and UN climate talks COP28 (30.11-12.12 in Dubai), which are set to boost false ‘solutions’ to the climate crisis, the FoEI paper reminds them of major risks. Hydrogen could lock the world into decades more fossil gas infrastructure, with dire consequences for climate-vulnerable communities, while delaying the implementation of real solutions.

Don’t fall for the hydrogen hype debunks the fossil fuel industry-spun myth of hydrogen as a clean energy source or low-carbon solution:

  • Globally, 99% of hydrogen production currently comes from fossil fuels – 62% is derived from fossil gas, about 21% from coal and lignite. (1)
  • So-called ‘green hydrogen’ — currently less than 0.1% of global production — is made via water electrolysis, an energy-intensive process powered by renewable or nuclear sources.

Diverting renewable energy away from people towards hydrogen production is inefficient and creates tensions on scarce resources like land and water, especially in energy-poor countries. It can’t compete on cost with fossil-based hydrogen production, and would require building long pipelines through people’s homes and ecosystems.

“Rather than betting on unproven and inefficient hydrogen technologies, we need rich countries to put their money towards a just energy transition, one that puts power in the hands of people, not corporations,” says Lise Masson, advocacy officer at FoEI.

One example: In South Africa’s Northern Cape, the Boegoebaai Project mega-scale port threatens to displace fishing communities, which will cause the loss of culture and livelihoods, and increase the risk of gender-based violence as new workers come to the area.

“In the Global South, ‘green hydrogen’ receives public money yet serves only private interests. As governments collude with corporations over mega-infrastructure projects, communities struggle to keep their ancestral lands and scant water resources intact,” explains Yegeshni Moodley from Friends of the Earth South Africa/groundWork.

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Madeleine Race, Communications Officer, FoEI, / +31 645 198 654

Tsepang Molefe, Media Campaign Manager, groundWork, Friends of the Earth, SA /+27-74 405 1257


(1) Global Hydrogen Review 2023, IEA, September 2023

Download the position paper here: Don’t fall for the hydrogen hype!

Friends of the Earth International will bring an international delegation to COP28 in Dubai.  See our demands, activities and spokespeople in this media advisory. Follow FoEI on social media for updates (@foeint on Facebook / X).

The 2021 ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ (COP26) opened the door to hydrogen and carbon capture technologies, by promising to end international public funding of ‘unabated’ fossil-fuel projects. At COP28, FoEI and wider civil society will remind decision-makers of the urgent need for an equitable phaseout of all fossil fuels, without any abatement, led by the wealthy countries most historically responsible for emissions.