Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the last plenary session during this Commission Conference on Hydrogen.
In his welcome address yesterday, President Prodi pointed out why this Conference is important for the environment. Hydrogen creates big opportunities for an environmentally sustainable energy and transport system - for cleaner air in our cities and for combating climate change. President Prodi also underlined the role that renewables should play in the hydrogen economy.
Different hydrogen production pathways is what this sessionwill look at. The report by the High-Level Group is a good basis for this discussion. I would like to congratulate the High Level Group for bringing forward a vision on the hydrogen economy that will greatly help us in putting Europe at the forefront of developments in this exciting field.
I will not go into a comparative analysis of different energy sources for producing hydrogen and will leave this to the members on our panel. I instead want to give you my starting point in the hydrogen debate, and that is climate change.
The challenge of climate change
The scientific community now firmly believes that man-made climate change is real and that it will lead to higher global temperatures, with serious consequences for our economies and our environment and in terms of human suffering. The impact of a changing climate may already be visible for example in a reduction of snow cover in the mid and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere by about 10 per cent since the late 1960s. Globally, the 1990s were the warmest decade since 1861. These are signs that we must not ignore. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has forecast that globally averaged surface temperature will increase by 1.4 to 5.8° Celsius from 1990 to 2100 under business-as-usual. This means that sea levels could rise by between 0.09 and 0.88 metres.
Mankind simply cannot afford