Text in green reads: COP28 PUSH FOR HYDROGEN: a gift to the fossil fuel industry. In the background we see 2 wind turbines covered in smoke. The footer displays the website www.corporateeurope.org, social media icons for Facebook, X, Instagram and Mastadon and the Corporate Europe Observatory logo.

Research Unveils Big Polluters' Hydrogen Agenda at COP28

[Brussels, 30 Nov] – As international climate talks kick off, new research exposes the alliance between the European Union, the European hydrogen lobby, and COP28’s host country, the United Arab Emirates to fuel a lucrative hydrogen market.

Corporate Europe Observatory's paper, "COP28 Push for Hydrogen: a Gift to the Fossil Fuel Industry," exposes the prominent role of hydrogen in Big Oil and Gas’ strategy to capitalise on alleged low carbon technologies to pump out even more fossil fuels. Devised in collaboration with global consultancies such as McKinsey on behalf of their fossil fuel clients, the COP28 stage is set to peddle hydrogen as a silver bullet to counter climate destruction.

Documents obtained by Corporate Europe Observatory reveal how Hydrogen Europe (HE), the most influential European hydrogen lobby group, has been at the forefront of the European Commission’s crusade to establish deals enabling access to hydrogen imports while simultaneously securing raw materials for European industry.

Hydrogen Europe facilitated a key EU-Egypt hydrogen deal at COP27. Now in the run-up to COP28, the lobby has used its privileged access to the European Commission and the Egyptian government to demand public funds to benefit companies like the Suez Canal and the Port of Rotterdam. 

Documents also show the shocking extent to which the European Commission actively seeks Hydrogen Europe’s involvement. In June, the European Commission's DG INTPA warned Hydrogen Europe of a visit by the Mauritanian energy minister and facilitated a meeting with Hydrogen Europe’s CEO Jorgo Chatzimarkakis. In October a deal for the development of a green hydrogen programme in Mauritania under the EU's Global Gateway program was put in place.

COP28's agenda reveals ambitions to double annual global hydrogen production - from 95 to 180 million tonnes - by 2030. Data from the International Energy Agency shows that 99% of the hydrogen produced in 2022 was derived from fossil fuels, with a carbon footprint of over 900 million tonnes (Mt). An increased target will go hand-in-hand with a massive boom in the production of fossil based hydrogen and climate destruction.

Despite the unrealistic and environmentally lethal nature of hydrogen targets, they are being used to justify the locking in of the fossil-based economy for the next decades. At COP28, the International Hydrogen Trade Forum (ITHF) will convene for the first time and is led by the UAE and the Netherlands. The world's most important hydrogen lobby, the Hydrogen Council, is a key player in the ITHF and advocates for exaggerated hydrogen targets, which has led to the promotion of new pipelines for transporting non-existent 'clean' hydrogen over long distances.

The COP28 summit, with chief lobbyist of the Hydrogen Council, Daria Nochevnik, acting as special advisor on hydrogen to the COP28 Presidency, is shaping up to become yet another platform for big polluters and governments to rack up hydrogen deals, divesting attention, efforts and funds away from genuine climate crisis solutions.

Belén Balanyá, campaigner and researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory said: "Far from the climate leader it poses as, the EU is a big driver of the global hydrogen craze, and it does so in close partnership with the hydrogen lobby. An immediate halt to new coal, oil, and gas projects and a rapid phase-out of production is what the COP28 climate summit should deliver. But Big Oil and Gas are eager to keep drilling and have found in hydrogen the ideal escape hatch to do so."


For more information, please contact:

Belén Balanyá, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher and campaigner

+31633090386, belen@corporateeurope.org

Gail Rego, Media Relations,

+32487202211, gail@corporateeurope.org


Additional Information:

EU’s and hydrogen industry interests on UAE’s hydrogen push

  • Germany and the Netherlands have taken the lead in brokering hydrogen deals with the Gulf states. In the case of the Netherlands, it was EU Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra (currently leading the EU at COP28) during his tenure as Dutch Foreign Ministry who engaged with both the UAE and Saudi Arabia overseeing four deals between UAE company Masdar and Dutch companies on the production of green hydrogen in Abu Dhabi and its export to Europe. 
  • New research by CEO raises questions on Commissioner Hoekstra’s ability to represent the public interest at COP28. Consultancy firm McKinsey, for whom Hoekstra worked 11 years, has a prominent role at COP28. 
  • Documents obtained via access to information requests by MEP Manon Aubry show the European Commission’s interest in brokering deals with the UAE to spur hydrogen development in third countries. 
  • The UAE's national hydrogen strategy, unveiled just weeks before COP28, aims for a 25% share of the global hydrogen market. The strategy was formulated in close collaboration with Fraunhofer, a prominent German consultancy group integral to Germany's ambitious hydrogen strategy.
  • Dii Desert Energy, a consortium of over 100 companies and groups including Shell, E.ON, Engie, Linde, TotalEnergies and Siemens, also helped to draft the UAE’s hydrogen strategy.

More information on the corporate capture of climate negotiations

  • New research by the Kick Polluters Out Network has revealed that fossil fuel lobbyists attended UN climate talks more than 7,000 times as part of their decades-long campaign to influence climate action.
  • A network of more than 450 organisations is calling for the UNFCCC to adopt an Accountability Framework to prevent the world’s largest polluters from steering global climate policymaking. After many years of campaigning by civil society, the UNFCCC took a first, important step last June by mandating the disclosure of who participants are representing at the COP.

For more information on the impacts and risks of hydrogen, and the corporate lobby behind it see:

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