Scientists warn against global warming effect of hydrogen leaks

(EurActiv, 14 Oct 2021) Scientists have warned that hydrogen could be a significant “indirect” contributor to the greenhouse effect when it leaks through infrastructure and interacts with methane in the atmosphere.

Last year, the European Commission presented a hydrogen strategy, saying that clean hydrogen could meet 24% of the world’s energy demand by 2050 and help decarbonise hard-to-abate industrial sectors like steel and chemicals.

Hydrogen only releases water vapour when burned, prompting policymakers to put their hopes into the new gas as a way of tackling climate change.

But hydrogen itself is an indirect contributor to global warming, said Steven Hamburg, chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), a US-based non-profit group.

And its effect on the climate has so far remained largely unexplored.

“Hydrogen is a potent short-lived indirect greenhouse gas that is 200 times more potent than carbon dioxide at the time it is released, kilogramme for kilogramme,” Hamburg told EURACTIV.