Top 5 Hydrogen Takeaways from COP26

December 3, 2021

With the 2021 United Nations climate change conference (COP26) now in the rearview, and with the benefit of time to let the dust settle, a few key takeaways have emerged. COP26 saw world leaders in both the public and private sector come together to find solutions to the biggest challenge of our generation. And while we saw varying plans and viewpoints on how best to address climate change, we also witnessed many rally behind hydrogen as one of the most viable solutions available to deploy now.

Below are the top five hydrogen takeaways from COP26.


1. Industry eager for alignment and cooperation among governments

Industry groups used the talks as a platform to call on world leaders for concrete hydrogen policy enabling more efficient cross-border hydrogen investments. Five global hydrogen associations urged participating nations for further clarity on hydrogen investment policies following the conference.

Industry’s call to action demonstrates widespread desire for a more uniform approach to hydrogen investment and standards – facilitating the acceleration of hydrogen production, deployment and use across the globe.


2. Hydrogen initiatives transcend nationalities and borders

COP26 demonstrated that solving climate change often requires collaborations and initiatives that transcend borders. For instance, the Green Hydrogen Catapult, a coalition of companies and NGOs leading the green hydrogen industry from 8 countries across Europe and Asia, announced at COP26 a goal to develop 45 gigawatts (GW) of electrolyzers by 2026, the largest green hydrogen commitment by a private sector coalition.

Separately, ABS, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Korea Shipbuilding and Offshore Engineering, announced a partnership between the American and Korean companies to develop technical guidance for offshore platform hydrogen production, with the goal to construct a facility by 2025.

The coalition of companies and governments from Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean was also created at COP26 to position Latin America and the Caribbean as hydrogen hubs. These initiatives showcase the global cooperation already occurring around hydrogen.


3. Leaders call for hydrogen as key component in multi-pronged approach to decarbonization

A November 5th COP26 EU event described hydrogen as “a missing piece of the puzzle” in the energy transition, and highlighted its commercial viability for transport.

Hydrogen’s versatility and use in combination with other decarbonizing technologies was also on display in the four missions launched at COP26 by joint governments initiative, Mission Innovation. Analysis of the COP26 missions expect hydrogen to play a major role in two: Urban Transitions and Net Zero Industries, which focus on low-carbon innovation in urban areas and heavy industries, respectively.

Scotland also showed its support for hydrogen when the country announced at COP26 its commitment to use hydrogen for 15 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2030, showing that both public and private groups are relying on hydrogen for the energy transition.


4. COP26 focuses on hydrogen’s role in transportation and shipping

Pilot projects are leveraging hydrogen as a sustainable fuel for aviation, and at COP26, the World Economic Forum’s Target True Zero Initiative partnered with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry to launch its First Movers Coalition committing to reduce aviation’s climate footprint by adopting new technologies, including hydrogen.

On COP26 Energy Day, the Belgian Ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)  with the Chilean Ministry of Energy to create “green hydrogen flows” between Europe and Chile, showing hydrogen’s potential in shipping.

Four days later, 22 COP26 participating governments signed the Clydebank Declaration to facilitate “green shipping corridors” described as “zero-emission maritime routes” between ports in order to align with COP26’s larger mission to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.” Signatories pledged to explore low-carbon technologies to minimize shipping emissions, which the Global Maritime Forum and World Economic Forum predict need to include hydrogen to meet stated emissions targets.


5. Many demand action following COP

The COP26 Glasgow Breakthroughs initiative of over 40 world leaders committed to “turbo-charge the uptake of clean technologies” through global standards and specifically identified hydrogen as a focus sector, demonstrating that investments in hydrogen will likely only increase.

On the private sector side, 28 companies brought together by COP26, pledged to drive hydrogen growth in a new initiative called H2Zero in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI).


COP26’s numerous announcements paint an exciting picture for the future of hydrogen, so long as this positive momentum translates to action. For the low-carbon benefits of hydrogen to be realized, private and public groups need to invest in the infrastructure and other resources required to make the global hydrogen economy a reality.


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