Sandwiched between the responsibilities of investors or financiers and customers are the companies providing sustainable services or products and infrastructure, all governed by regulatory frameworks and effective enforcement. Each stakeholder has a critical and essential role in creating and developing new sustainable products and services that will need collective action to ensure their success.

 

 

I would like to use an example of the development of hydrogen fuel cells in transportation to show how collective responsibility might work and what the future could look like for reducing both emissions and particulate matter from transportation. This requires establishing the infrastructure, production of hydrogen, lowering the cost of fuel cells, and effective roll outs. If the transition from horse buggies to motorised vehicles took only around 20 years to be complete, the transition from internal combustion engines to fuel cells could be even shorter, with EVs as a steppingstone.

 

However, it requires all stakeholders to take aim at the finish line and bundle the required resources in a coordinated manner to achieve the goal. Once governments, utility companies, technology providers, municipalities and consumers recognise the feasibility and benefits, fuel cells could ultimately be extended from powering passenger vehicles to aircraft and shipping.

 

 

Whilst there are many components in the mix of companies able to drive this type of transition, a top down approach to establishing frameworks, infrastructure and administration will need to be led by governments and also include the production of an affordable product (similar to the Ford Model T in the early 20th Century) which would allow the mass adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. From the top end of the supply chain, renewable energy or other low emission factor energy will be needed to produce and provide a steady supply of hydrogen which will then be transported or piped to the filling stations.

 

Importantly, suitably located real estate or the refitting of petrol stations will be required just as with CNG to ensure that there is easy access and convenience to quick refuelling. This will be a far more practical solution than EV charging, as filling for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could be completed within around five minutes rather than 15-20 minutes for EVs. Then there is the issue of emissions which would be no more than water vapour and warm air, solving the two major issues currently faced by municipalities, namely pollution caused by greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter.

 

The journey to the successful implementation of hydrogen fuel cell transportation will be the result of collective responsibility and multi-stakeholder development and collaboration. This could be one potential solution to the elimination of around 14% of global emissions (estimated to be around 35 Gt CO2e in 2019), or 4.62 Gt CO2e, in addition to reducing the harmful particulate matter from densely populated urban centres.