Joint letter to ISO: Improving methods for determining hydrogen emissions

Publish date: May 17, 2024

Bellona is proud to stand alongside fellow environmental groups and hydrogen developers as signatories to a critical letter to the International Organization for Standardization( ISO) urging for enhancements to the Technical Specification 19870:2023 on methodologies for determining the greenhouse gas emissions associated with hydrogen production, conditioning and transport which will ultimately be developed into an ISO standard. 

Led by the incredible efforts of NRDC, we encourage the ISO to publish standards – albeit voluntary – that are robust, transparent and accurately capture the emissions impacts of hydrogen production. We hope our recommendations are conducive to establishing an ISO standard that fosters the development of a truly clean hydrogen industry that is not tainted by underreported climate impacts.  

Our recommendations include: 

  1. We advocate for transparency regarding the potential scope and limitations of a future standard. It is essential to clarify that adherence to the ISO standard signifies the utilisation of specific emission accounting methods, rather than certifying the ‘cleanliness’ of hydrogen production below a defined emissions threshold. 
  1. The proposed standard currently relies on inadequately reported and underestimated national averages for methane leakage, a potent greenhouse gas. ISO must mandate more accurate and detailed reporting of methane leakage to reflect the true global warming impact of the end product. 
  1. Hydrogen production from fossil fuels that relies on Carbon Capture and Storage must be monitored for capture rates and permanence of sequestration to accurately verify the full climate impact through a robust and standardised process. 
  1. Hydrogen produced via electrolysis must credibly and rigorously account for the emissions caused by the production process elsewhere on the electricity grid. To this end, we call on ISO to require provisions similar to the requirements of additionality, temporal and geographical correlation, set out in the Delegated Act on Additionality of the Renewable Energy Directive. 
  1. Recognising the significant indirect global warming impact of released hydrogen, ISO should require separate measurement and reporting of hydrogen emissions alongside life cycle assessments. 
  1. Enhancing stakeholder engagement in ISO processes is vital. This can be achieved, for instance, by providing free access to published documents for civil society actors involved in these issues, thereby fostering broader participation and inclusivity. 

Read the full letter here:

For further insights into why these enhancements are crucial, check out this informative piece by NRDC, available here.

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