Brussels, May 23 – The European Commission today confirmed a definition of “green” hydrogen which looks set to increase rather than decrease climate-heating emissions, in a move Global Witness described as “pure greenwashing”.

Whilst the Commission describes this as a consultation, their proposals can only be accepted or rejected by the European Parliament and member states.

In a major concession to the fossil fuel industry, clean energy standards would not have to apply to green hydrogen projects built before 2027.

This means companies would be allowed to use electricity from existing renewables supply instead of needing to build new installations, diverting precious green electricity away from the grid.

Coal-or gas-fired electricity would most likely replace it, meaning the expansion of green hydrogen would lead to more fossil fuels being burned. After 2027, green hydrogen projects would need to be powered by new renewable energy installations, but the old high-emissions ones would be allowed to stay online.

The move follows extensive lobbying from the fossil fuel-backed lobby group Hydrogen4EU, whose members include BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies.

Dominic Eagleton, Senior Gas Campaigner at Global Witness, said:

These appallingly lax rules will turn what could have been a clean fuel of the future into a polluting one reliant on yet more fossil fuels. This is pure greenwashing; the Commission has delivered exactly what the corporate lobby has asked for, and in the process sacrificed the climate and the credibility of its own rules. These rules must be rejected by the European Parliament and national governments to ensure that green hydrogen is genuinely green and powered by renewables.”

Green hydrogen is central to the European Commission’s plans to exit Russian gas. The REPowerEU strategy, announced last week, aims to install 17.5 GW of electrolysers to produce it by 2025.