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Commentary: Could hydrogen be our solution to climate change?

Commentary: Could hydrogen be our solution to climate change?

Energy demand is expected to increase by as much as 50 per cent over the next 30 years, but energy companies and policymakers have widely different visions of that future, says Professor John W Ballantine.

WALTHAM, Massachusetts: Tehran, 1943: Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill – hosted by the young Shah Reza Pahlavi – agree on plans for the two-front attack on Hitler while sketching out the east-west division of Europe.

Holding the meeting in Iran, with separate consultations with the shah, was no mistake. Gulf oil was a critical resource to the Allied war effort. Oil has flowed under the surface of political conflicts ever since.

Fast forward to today, and political antagonists and energy players are again forging a messy path forward, this time focused on long-term energy transitions as disparate countries try to slow and eventually stop climate change.

The 2015 Paris Agreement was a groundbreaking diplomatic effort – 196 countries committed to prevent average temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of less than 1.5 degrees Celcius.

To meet that goal, scientists argue that fossil fuel use will have to reach net zero emissions by mid-century.

The genius of the Paris climate accord was getting all the major parties to agree – particularly major greenhouse gas emitters including Russia, China, India, Brazil and members of OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Now, the challenge is implementing the multiplicity of solutions needed to bend the global warming curve.

The Paris Agreement is not a treaty – countries set their own targets and determine their own strategies for meeting them. Each signatory has its own politics, economic structure, energy resources and climate exposure.

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