Opening Remarks by Mr James George at the 2024 Hydrogen Energy Competition on “Specialty + Sophistication + Uniqueness + Novelty”

June 18, 2024

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in China, James George, delivered opening remarks at the 2024 Hydrogen Energy Competition on “Specialty + Sophistication + Uniqueness + Novelty” in Changshu, China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning,
On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme in China, it is my pleasure to join you this morning - with an audience committed to positively move the agenda of clean and renewable energy in China.
Changshu with its advancements in the field of hydrogen economy is an excellent location for us to have this important discussion and participate in the series of related technical events.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My remarks this morning is both of concern and optimism.
Let me begin by stating it clearly - our world is headed to a climate catastrophe.
As all of you are aware, in 2015, the global community came together at the United Nations to adopt the most ambitious global development blueprint ever conceived - for people and planet - the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since then, so much has taken place.
While we have made some progress globally, with six years to go, the overall global trajectory is critically off track.
Let me illustrate this concern from one dimension – our living environment.
2023 was the warmest year on record, with the temperature already at about 1.45 °C above the pre-industrial average.
We have felt the impact of this in China and seen its devastating socio-economic impact and erasing decades of hard-earned development gains across our Asia-Pacific region.
There is one indisputable fact to this predicament – energy is at the heart of the climate challenge and one of the keys to the solution.
The science is clear: to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, emissions need to be reduced by almost half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
To achieve this, we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels and invest in alternative sources of energy that are clean, accessible, affordable, sustainable, and reliable.
Sadly, in our Asia-Pacific region, progress on energy-related SDGs has been slow, and even worse, for some targets, progress has been negative.
For Goal 7: affordable and clean energy, only access to electricity is showing significant progress.
The renewable energy share target has recorded a regression, as has Goal 13, which focuses on Climate Action.
It is very clear that without transformative and bold actions, over 3 billion lives globally will be at risk.

"Energy is at the heart of the climate challenge and one of the keys to the solution. The science is clear: to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, emissions need to be reduced by almost half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050."

Ladies and gentlemen,
That is not to say that critical progress has not been made.
Let me now share my message of optimism and my hope for consideration of the audience here in this room.
Chinese investment in clean energy rose to approximately 890 billion dollars, accounting for about half of the global total spending.
Over 800 major Chinese companies have set ambitious targets to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
This is a good start and we welcome the increased and continued participation of state owned enterprises and the private sector to be the market leaders and set the pace and standards of the transition to renewable energy and low carbon development pathways.
However, much more needs to be done and many opportunities, remain untapped.
Let me now focus this morning on the hydrogen industry.
As all of us are aware, hydrogen has a critical role in achieving the global agenda of net zero and especially in the hard to abate industries.
It has the potential to contribute significantly in the decarbonisation of economies, supporting just transition and sustainable economic growth  and support countries meet the global climate objectives in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The United Nations project that renewable and low carbon hydrogen can help abate between 60 and 80 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2050.
These efforts alongside the direct electrification and other clean energy pathways - hydrogen deployment can also improve system resilience, cost-efficiency, optimization of energy systems and energy security.
It’s heartening to note that over the past two years, there has been significant and sustained growth in the development and execution of hydrogen projects throughout the entire value chain - globally.
We have also witnessed a significant increase in public policies and legislative initiatives designed to streamline the adoption of hydrogen - globally.
However - governments and industry stakeholders continue to face one key challenge - expediting and scaling up real-world deployment of hydrogen.
As all of you are leaders, pioneers and technical experts in this field know very well  -– the success envisioned will require scale and speed of adoption; international standards, rapidly upgraded/ upskilled technical human capacities; and unlocking significant amount financing and investments on new and innovative technologies.
For UNDP, we are pleased to be able to contribute to this agenda in China through our strategic collaboration with the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE), the Changshu government and the China Hydrogen Alliance  with a focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) project in Changshu.
Our collaboration is a testament of the commitment of all stakeholders on the critical importance of ensuring we place strategic investments in building the required human capital for the  transition towards green, low carbon development pathways and aligned to China’s own dual 2030/ 2060 carbon goals.
With more than 20 years of experience in piloting hydrogen-related projects in China, UNDP stands ready to leverage its expertise and global network to ensure the success of this initiative.

In closing, let me express my sincere appreciation to the Changshu High-Tech Zone Management Committee for their strong commitment to this innovative partnership.
I would also like to congratulate all the participants today, including the technical teams with innovative solutions to be presented later this afternoon.
I would like to congratulate the organisers and all the technical partners and teams who have made this event a possibility.
I wish the event a great success and look forward to a productive and enlightening discussion.
Let us work collaboratively together in China and across the globe in exchanging our knowledge, innovations, best practices and challenges in advancing the hydrogen economy and build a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future for everyone, everywhere.
Thank you!