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  • 22 February 2024

Green hydrogen: Fueling just decarbonization or ‘greening’ extractivism? Introductory conference remarks

Green hydrogen: Fueling just decarbonization or ‘greening’ extractivism?, Research Institute for Sustainability (RIFS), Potsdam and online, 22–23 February 2024

Organizers: Alexandra Tost (Research Institute for Sustainability, Potsdam), Aliaksei Patonia (Oxford Institute for Energy Studies), Benno Fladvad (University of Hamburg), Franziska Müller (University of Hamburg), Rainer Quitzow (Research Institute for Sustainability, Potsdam)

Green hydrogen is being discussed globally as one of the necessary contributions to a decarbonized economy. However, its role in achieving a just transition is controversial. While some argue that it has the potential to contribute significantly to the transition to just and sustainable energy systems, e.g. by improving air quality for communities adjacent to industrial zones or by creating new sources of income and green jobs in structurally weak regions, others point to its multiple socioecological risks: In particular, the expected massive expansion of hydrogen infrastructure, such as giant wind and solar farms, pipelines, transmission grids, and desalination plants in potential producing countries in the Global South, risks fuelling conflicts over land and freshwater with negative consequences for ecosystems and frontline communities. Moreover, as the hydrogen economy is largely driven by actors in the Global North, there are concerns that green hydrogen may lead to deepened South–North dependencies and a ‘greening’ of extractivism rather than to a just decarbonization and equitable trade relations. In light of these uncertainties, this online conference asks how to create socially just and ecologically sound hydrogen production chains. To this end, it brings together academics, policy makers, activists, and business representatives from Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

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