Business

At Tokyo meeting, ministers from around the world vow to promote hydrogen as alternative energy source

Kyodo

Energy ministers and government officials from around 20 countries said Tuesday they will step up cooperation in promoting the use of hydrogen as an alternative energy source by sharing technology and standards.

In the first Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meeting held in Tokyo, the participants also stressed the need to jointly analyze the effectiveness of hydrogen use in reducing carbon dioxide emissions as the world grapples with climate change.

Despite growing hopes for hydrogen as an alternative energy source to fossil fuel, it faces a host of challenges, such as high costs and a lack of necessary infrastructure.

The Japan-hosted ministerial meeting was designed to coordinate global efforts to create a society where more hydrogen is used in everyday life.

A statement adopted at the meeting said hydrogen can be a “key contributor” to the ongoing transition to clean energy and called for collaboration in hydrogen-related technology such as fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen storage.

Industry minister Hiroshige Seko and Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, were among the participants at the event.

Following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in 2011, the world’s worst since Chernobyl in 1986, there has been growing public interest in renewable energy sources in Japan.

In a strategy to promote wider hydrogen use drawn up last December, the government called for global collaboration to lower costs and ensure stable supply.

Climate change is one of the issues on which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to lead the global debate as Japan hosts the Group of 20 leaders summit next year.

Under the 2015 Paris climate accord, from which the United States is planning to withdraw, Japan aims for a 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2013 levels.

In the private sector, Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. have already developed hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.