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Press release  •  4 min

Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance could signal the beginning of a transformational shift towards secure, renewable energy

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Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories [OTTAWA], 23 August 2022:

Today’s agreement between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signals that the way forward for energy security is to accelerate the transition to renewables. After months of discussions focussed on East Coast liquified natural gas (LNG), the visit results in a welcome shift in rhetoric and focus towards green hydrogen. This is the work of tireless mobilizing by land defenders and civil society that pushed for a rapid, clear-sighted and climate-safe response to Europe’s energy needs. This mobilization will continue, to ensure this moment marks the beginning of a real just transition, rather than superficial change.

At a moment when the Canadian fossil fuel industry has been intensifying its lobbying efforts and instrumentalizing the invasion of Ukraine to promote fossil fuel expansion, the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance offers a glimpse of economic opportunity and job creation beyond oil and gas. And, as Canada’s domestic “clean hydrogen” strategy continues to blur the lines between renewable and fossil-based hydrogen, the Canadian government has the chance to learn from Germany’s clear categorization and focus on green hydrogen. Canada must also ensure the funding committed through this agreement does not extend fossil fuel subsidies, and instead use public resources to support the expansion of renewable energy.

To meet Canada’s obligations, green hydrogen projects will have to respect Indigenous rights and sovereignty and go through the full environmental assessment process. Local communities must have a say in where projects go and the kind of community benefits they want.

While this was not on the official agenda, Canadian and German business delegations did discuss LNG and gas-based hydrogen projects during the visit, and will undoubtedly continue lobbying for financial and regulatory favours in the coming weeks. Federal and provincial governments must build on the vision expressed in today’s declaration and resist industry pressure as new LNG infrastructure projects on the East Coast would come online far too late to help with Europe’s current needs, make us more vulnerable to climate losses and damages, violate Indigenous rights, and sabotage Canada’s climate commitments.

Quotes

Caroline Brouillette, National Policy Manager, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Canada:

“The invasion of Ukraine has starkly illustrated the dangers of fossil fuel dependence. Canada and Germany just sent the much-needed signal that another way is possible, and desirable. The Canadian government must use this moment as a tipping point, and plan for a just transition to renewable energy across the economy – no more hiding between vague definitions of ‘clean’ energy that serve as cover for continued reliance on volatile, climate-destroying fuels.”

Jim Emberger, Spokesperson, New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance:

“Agreements on truly green solutions are a welcome shift away from discussions that promoted fossil fuels, such as LNG, as Canada’s contribution to addressing Germany’s energy and climate challenges. The agreements are to be applauded. However, any doors that the Chancellor’s visit left open for the consideration of Atlantic coast LNG must be quickly and definitively closed, before they diminish and pervert the climate and energy advances just achieved. New fossil fuel projects are incompatible with any climate solution for Germany, Canada or the planet.”

Louise Comeau, Director Climate Change and Energy Solutions, Conservation Council of New Brunswick:

“We welcome the race toward a zero emissions economy. We need to run that race with fair rules of engagement for communities and companies. That requires strong government oversight. Liquefied natural gas is not a legitimate contestant in this race. It won’t cross the finishing line in time to help Germany or the planet.”

Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist, Greenpeace Canada:

“There’s something beautiful about wind power from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia blowing away petro-power in Europe. Fossil fuels are at the core of the current conflicts in Europe and around the world, whether they are paying for weapons or fueling climate disasters. So it is great they’re signing a deal proving renewable energy is the way forward even though they can’t quite bring themselves to shut the door completely on LNG just yet.”

Keith Brooks, Programs Director, Environmental Defence:

“While we are encouraged to see the new Canada-Germany agreement for production and export of green hydrogen, we are concerned that the door is being left open to blue hydrogen fuel. Blue hydrogen, produced from fossil fuels, is not a clean fuel, and in fact may contribute just as much greenhouse gas emissions as burning gas, or even more. The world needs truly clean, renewable energy sources now.”

Tom Green, Senior Climate Policy Adviser, David Suzuki Foundation:

“Geopolitical crises like the Russian invasion of Ukraine (and the resulting surge in gas prices) prove that our dependence on fossil fuels undermines both economic and energy security. By developing wind projects to export green hydrogen, we can both heed climate science and meet our international obligations, while seizing the rapidly growing economic opportunities offered by renewable energy. There is no benefit from pursuing energy security at the expense of the environment.”

“We clearly need to work together to find solutions to current energy issues, but a key component missing from the discussions is how to curb the growth in energy demand. What’s even more important than deciding how to substitute fossil fuels with less polluting types of energy is a focus on energy sobriety and the means to limit our collective consumption. Let’s focus on reducing our demand for extraction, for minerals, for infrastructure and thereby reduce their impacts on our land, water and air. It’s time for a paradigm shift.”

Colleen Thorpe

Executive Director

Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee:

“Every moment we spend distracted by liquefied natural gas is wasted energy in the race to get off fossil fuels. While green hydrogen must avoid the same leakage problems as gas infrastructure, we are hopeful that the answer to Europe’s energy crisis will be windmills — not fracking wells. Canada should abandon its LNG plans on both coasts and instead put all its energy into furthering the transition off fossil fuels here and abroad.”

Ali Wines, Executive Director, Protect Our Winters Canada:

“Agreements such as that announced today between Canada and Germany to develop and export green hydrogen demonstrate that an accelerated transition to clean energy is not only possible, but also beneficial from economic and energy security standpoints. Protect Our Winters Canada welcomes this agreement and encourages the government to adopt the same speed and agility with the transition to renewables across the country.”

Dawn Moorhead, Coordinator, Greater Victoria Climate Hub:

“We applaud moves away from fossil fuel extraction and use, while working to reduce and balance demands on a finite planet.”


Canada’s farthest-reaching network of organizations working on climate and energy issues, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat (CAN-Rac) Canada is a coalition of 140 organizations operating from coast to coast to coast. Our membership brings environmental groups together with trade unions, First Nations, social justice, development, health and youth organizations, faith groups and local, grassroots initiatives.



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