On the 22nd of November 2022, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 closed with a breakthrough agreement to provide ‘loss and damage’ funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters. Accompanying this global effort on climate change was an agreement between the participating states to launch a package of 25 new collaborative actions that will be delivered by COP28 to speed up the decarbonisation of industry. The field of hydrogen will be a key factor in these policies; this is reflected by the fact that 50 countries are already developing and following hydrogen strategies, collectively targeting 74 GW of capacity. The joint agreement looks to build on this global effort to apply hydrogen within the energy transition plan while adding priority actions to follow until the COP28, all while having the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) assist in their implementation.
Joint Agreement of the COP27 on Hydrogen
One priority action of the joint global vision on hydrogen is scaling up the production of low-emission hydrogen. To achieve this goal, the COP27 agreement envisages the development of common definitions for green hydrogen and the enhanced deployment of essential hydrogen infrastructure projects. To that end, the agreement has plans for the construction of at least 100 hydrogen valleys (UNFCCC, 2022).
These joint initiatives agreed on during the COP 27 will be financially backed by various funding programmes. Among others, the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) will launch a new Industry Transition Programme. This Industry Transition Programme will be the world’s first large-scale, dedicated finance programme for developing countries’ industry transitions, and that aims to decarbonise industries globally with the use of renewable hydrogen. The European Union will also involve itself financially with a 410 million-dollar investment in the green hydrogen sector of Egypt through the EBRD (UNFCCC, 2022). Finally, the World Bank announced the development of a 1.6 billion-dollar global investment programme to enhance efforts in the hydrogen field.
The COP27 has also encouraged non-governmental entities to make steps towards a green transition, as the largest green hydrogen developers and shipping actors have made a joint statement in which they mutually commit to the production and application of green hydrogen-derived fuels by 2030 and beyond.
Figure: UNFCCC, 2022
UNIDO’s hydrogen programme
The United Nations will continue to assist in the implementation of the ambitious goals agreed upon at the COP27 through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). UNIDO has long-standing experience in renewable energy projects, such as the application of clean energy technology in the industry, and already successfully collaborates with a wide range of partners worldwide in supporting industries in their pathway to net-zero emissions. In July 2021, UNIDO launched a global Programme to foster the application of green hydrogen, recognizing the growing importance of renewable hydrogen. According to UNIDO, the programme consists of two pillars. The first is the ‘Global Partnership for Hydrogen in Industry’, which aims to enhance continuous global strategic dialogue, in addition to annual global environmental and climate summits like the COP (UNIDO, 2022). UNIDO’s framework for ongoing global dialogue on hydrogen fosters the exchange, development, and distribution of knowledge on policies and technical guidelines.
The second pillar is UNIDO’s technical assistance to support the industrial application and up-take of green hydrogen (UNIDO, 2022). This will be achieved by designing and implementing national industrial green hydrogen roadmaps and pilot projects for and in cooperation with developing and transition countries. These roadmaps and projects will establish green hydrogen clusters and value chains and will advance sector coupling in industrial zones and parks. In the global strategy for decarbonising industries – sharpened during the COP27 – the application of green hydrogen was once again identified as a key element. With their experience and expertise, the United Nations (through UNIDO) can provide a global framework to develop and increase the application of renewable hydrogen and foster the exchange on the topic.
UNIDO. 2022. UNIDO’s Global Programme for Green Hydrogen in Industry, https://www.unido.org/green-hydrogen.
UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE. 2022. The Breakthrough Agenda: a master plan to accelerate decarbonization of five major sectors, https://climatechampions.unfccc.int/breakthrough-agenda/.