Strong climate policies will drive clean hydrogen deploymentPembina Institute reacts to Hydrogen Strategy for Canada

Dec. 16, 2020


Hydrogen is only a potential climate solution if it is produced in a way that minimizes carbon emissions. Photo: TruckPR (CC BY-NC-ND)

EDMONTON — Simon Dyer, deputy executive director at the Pembina Institute, made the following statement today in response to the federal government’s Hydrogen Strategy for Canada:

“The Pembina Institute welcomes the release of the federal government’s Hydrogen Strategy for Canada and ongoing work to identify the appropriate role of hydrogen in robust pathways to net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Hydrogen is only a potential climate solution if it is produced in a way that minimizes carbon emissions. In the growing global market for hydrogen, carbon content will be the new currency. It is encouraging to see emission intensity is a central theme of the strategy, which rightly identifies the need for a definition of low-carbon hydrogen, a standardized approach to measuring carbon intensity, a decline in emission intensity over time, targets for renewable hydrogen production, and support for innovation in carbon capture, utilization and storage.

“Canada can build on these first steps to ensure it is well-positioned to compete in the global market and maximize hydrogen’s potential as a climate solution. For example, while the European Union’s hydrogen strategy also recognizes the role of low-carbon hydrogen in the short term, it sends a clear signal to industry by prioritizing and setting targets for the development and production of renewable hydrogen in alignment with its 2050 net-zero target. Likewise, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s climate platform has committed to a renewable hydrogen research agenda.

“Hydrogen produced from renewable energy and hydrogen produced from natural gas with a high rate of carbon capture and storage will only be deployed at scale if Canada has strong policies that incentivize investment in clean fuel production. That is why policies announced in Canada’s new climate plan, such as the Clean Fuel Standard, methane regulations, and a steadily increasing carbon price, are necessary to attract investment in low-carbon and renewable hydrogen production.

“Investments in oil and gas are in decline, and the strategy notes that combustion of natural gas will decline over time in order for Canada to achieve net-zero emissions. Hydrogen made from natural gas with high carbon capture could represent an opportunity for diversification to support workers in oil- and gas-producing regions while contributing to emissions reductions along net-zero pathways and meeting growing demand for low-carbon fuels. Canada must anchor this opportunity within a longer term plan to support economic options for workers and communities impacted by changes in the global energy system.

“We look forward to working with the Government of Canada to unlock hydrogen’s potential both as a climate solution and a market opportunity. This will require a deeper understanding of the role that hydrogen made from natural gas with carbon capture can play in helping to create a market for hydrogen, and how much of the overall supply of hydrogen must ultimately come from renewable sources. Further research is needed to determine the most appropriate uses for hydrogen within the suite of energy solutions available as we move toward our net-zero target.”

Quick facts

  • In terms of climate benefits, not all hydrogen is created equal:

    • Hydrogen extracted from natural gas (without carbon capture and storage) offers little to no climate benefit.

    • Hydrogen extracted from natural gas while employing carbon capture and storage has a low to moderate carbon intensity. The actual intensity is determined by the quantity of upstream emissions associated with the production and transportation of the gas feedstock and the amount of emissions that are permanently sequestered through the carbon capture process.

    • Hydrogen extracted from water using renewable energy has the lowest carbon intensity and offers the greatest climate benefit.

  • Low-carbon hydrogen can be blended with existing gas and liquid fuels to incrementally lower their carbon intensity.



Stephen Hui
Senior Communications Lead, Pembina Institute
Tw: @StephenHui


Primer: Hydrogen on the path to net-zero emissions

Webinar series: The Future of Hydrogen & RNG in Canada

About the Pembina Institute

The Pembina Institute is a non-profit think-tank that works to advance a prosperous clean energy future for Canada through credible policy solutions that support communities, the economy, and a safe climate. We have offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa. Learn more:


Our perspectives to your inbox.

The Pembina Institute endeavors to maintain your privacy and protect the confidentiality of any personal information that you may give us. We do not sell, share, rent or otherwise disseminate personal information. Read our full privacy policy.