The European Union has long presented itself as the leader in combating unsustainable practices of which climate change poses the greatest and most complex issue. Recently, the European Commission and the governments of member states have reaffirmed their commitment to decarbonisation, which they have to begin by reconfiguring the EU’s energy system. Supporting renewables and electrification is half of this story, while many see hydrogen as a fix for the other half. A renewable-based – potentially decentralised – hydrogen society offers the fundamental reconfiguration of energy producer-consumer relations. This is poised to have wide-ranging geopolitical implications as it severs fossil fuel-based capitalist relations between governments, fossil fuel enterprises, and consumers. There is another side to this same coin: hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, offering the continuance of the status quo. It is readily scalable and maintains the fossil fuel-based relations of production and trade within the EU and between the EU and third parties, averting radical transformation. EU policy-makers must heed attention to the deeply politicised nature their decision regarding the form of hydrogen carries and thereby its links to socio-political stability in the region.
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