EU proposes 90% GHG reduction target by 2040: Green hydrogen could meet up to 10% of energy demand

The European Commission has proposed cutting the bloc’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 90% compared to 1990 levels by 2040, with renewable hydrogen slated to meet up to 10% of final energy demand.

Hoped to bridge the gap between 2030 and 2050 climate targets, the Commission has said the starting point is the “full implementation” of existing legislation to cut emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

Under an impact assessment for the plans, hydrogen is expected to play a key role by decarbonising hard-to-abate industry and transport, with renewable hydrogen production expected to reach 20-35 million tonnes per year by 2040 – representing up to 10% of final energy demand.

However, the model accounts for just three million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030 – seven million tonnes shy of the bloc’s 2020 hydrogen strategy.

Read more: European Commission looks to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030

Despite praising the move, Hydrogen Europe has said it is “alarming” the announcement and assessment did not consider other roles for hydrogen, including long-term seasonal storage, production and heavy-duty road transport.

Saying the proposal offers a “good set of measures,” Daniel Fraile, Chief Policy Officer at Hydrogen Europe, said hydrogen’s role should not be undermined by “any preference” for an electrification-only scenario.

“Only by developing hydrogen and electricity infrastructure together will we have a chance at decarbonising all sectors by 2050,” he said.

Carbon pricing and finance access have also been highlighted as critical tools to deliver the targets – with the Commission set to establish a “dedicated taskforce” to develop a global approach to carbon pricing and carbon markets.

Read more: EU ETS has improved the business case for Air Products’ Rotterdam blue hydrogen plans

“Europe will also need to mobilise the right mix of private and public sector investment to make our economy both sustainable and competitive,” it said.

Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy, said the proposal send a clear signal to investors that Europe is “staying the course” and offers long-term predictability and stability.

“The energy sector is leading the way in Europe’s decarbonisation and emissions reduction, and we must continue on this path towards 2040,” she said.

The proposal will start debate on the target, but a new Commission and Parliament will be responsible for its outcome, with European Parliament elections set for June (2024).

Across the European political headlines, more polls, thinktanks and commentators are anticipating a swing to the right, which could make it harder to pass climate policies.


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