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9th Aug 2020

Regions urge EU to act on 'green hydrogen'

  • The president of the Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, warned that local and regional authorities need direct access to EU funds to invest efficiently in the green recovery (Photo: European Committee of the Regions)

The EU's regions on Wednesday (1 July) urged the unlocking of the potential of hydrogen produced from renewable sources, so-called 'green hydrogen', to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The upcoming European Hydrogen Strategy, part of the Green Deal, is expected to spur decarbonisation across Europe - especially for the heavy industry and transport sector.

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However, green hydrogen today represents only around one percent of the EU's energy sources, since most hydrogen production is derived from fossil fuels such as natural gas, not renewables.

The member of the European Committee of the Regions and rapporteur on clean hydrogen, Birgit Honé, said that green hydrogen offers Europe an opportunity to build a "more sustainable, competitive and resilient economy".

"The EU Hydrogen Strategy is an opportunity for an EU-wide vision to specifically promote green hydrogen for 2030 and 2050 in the future energy mix and economic system," she added.

But Honé also stressed that local and regional authorities must play a decisive role in putting the hydrogen economy in place through the development and implementation of regional programmes which reflect the production potential of different regions.

The committee thus called for more funding and support in cooperation projects within the European Hydrogen Valleys Partnership - which already includes more than 30 regions in 13 European countries.

Additionally, local and regional authorities also recommend the European Commission to include in its hydrogen strategy specific targets for green hydrogen production capacity based on a regional impact assessment.

The commission will unveil its hydrogen strategy in early July.

Frontline cash

Meanwhile, the committee also backed the Green Deal as the cornerstone of the EU's recovery post-coronavirus.

"We need a green sustainable recovery and transformation in all corners of Europe. The Green deal and recent proposals on the next MFF [EU's long term budget] and new recovery fund offer the exact right track," the president of the committee Apostolos Tzitzikostas said.

Tzitzikostas also stressed that local and regional authorities need direct and easy access to European funds to invest efficiently so that citizens see clear results in their daily lives.

"Structural changes must also be introduced to let local and regional governments on the frontline have direct access to EU funds and support when a crisis hits," he said, referring to the commission's proposal of €2bn extra for the EU civil protection response.

"We stand ready to work with the European Commission to strengthen the resilience in our regions, cities and villages across Europe," he added.

The committee launched earlier this month a working group called 'Green Deal Going Local' which is made up of representatives of 13 local and regional governments.

They aimed to translate EU climate policy into concrete projects and financing opportunities for cities and regions across the bloc.

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