• Rasmus Birkbak Villadsen
4. term, European Studies, Master (Master Programme)
European politics is saturated with climate policy. When the European Green Deal was introduced in 2019, it came with a commitment to climate neutrality by 2050 and the subsequent industrial development strategy of 2020, made it a guiding principle for EU policymaking alongside a digital transformation of Europe. Playing an important role in the effort to reach climate neutrality in time is the development of green hydrogen and deploying it in the energy sector. Hydrogen can be produced with sustainable energy sources, making it the carbon-free solution to issues regarding fuelling of planes, ships or trucks, storage of electricity, and as a key ingredient in sustainable steel manufacturing. Research indicates that much policy making, and in particular European policy, exists in a system of governance called multi-level governance. Multi-level governance accounts for the dispersion of authority upwards, downwards, and sideway between the supranational, national, and subnational levels of governance from a multitude of actors from the public sphere, business sectors and civil society. Policies for the long-term future of green hydrogen is not exempt from this. This paper seeks to analyse three pieces of policy from across the multi-level governance spectrum. Policies from the European Union, Germany, and the region of North Germany set out plans for the development of the needed hydrogen technologies, creating pipeline and electrolyser infrastructure, and a broad palette of initiatives to increase demand for green hydrogen solutions. The analysis is carried out by applying the ‘What’s the problem represented to be’ approach to policy analysis, which emphasises the policy as an active constituent of a problem, rather than acting as a solver of externally fixed problems. From this framework, I seek to analyse the potential space for resistance towards the problem representations identified, for the overall purpose of improving the policies. The analysis identified pervasive problem representations concerning how the current cost of green hydrogen and lacking positive financial incentives make it unviable from an economic perspective. Furthermore, it was found that the key concepts of cost and investments significantly limit how the policies are able to utilise the full spectrum of market development measures. This opened up the analysis to ways of thinking differently about the identified problem representations. In answering the paper’s problem formulation, I created a space that resisted the existing problematisations concerning the cost-effective nature of the proposals within the policies. I argued that the concept of cost should be raised above its short-term business-centric perspective to a pluralist perspective that considers the long-term effects of inadequate and untimely climate action.
Publication date28 May 2021
Number of pages61
ID: 413087900