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Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan responds during question period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, on Feb. 17, 2020.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada and Germany have signed an agreement to team up on green energy innovation and trade, with an eye to hydrogen as the market for the low-carbon fuel heats up.

Signed today by the two countries’ energy ministers, it outlines a plan to co-operate on energy policy and research as both strive to reach the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said Quebec and his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador are particularly well poised to start generating so-called “green hydrogen,” which burns cleanly and can be produced using wind and solar power.

O’Regan stressed the need to retrain workers in regions with economies long reliant on struggling fossil fuel industries, saying the transition could be “messy.”

“It often makes people on both sides of the political spectrum – either side – unhappy,” he said in a virtual signing ceremony with Peter Altmaier, Germany’s minister of economic affairs and energy.

“Oil will be with us for some time, and it will continue to be a part of the Canadian economy, without question,” O’Regan said.

Liquefied natural gas could serve as a handy “bridge fuel” to cross over into green-energy territory, he added, with Germany aiming to integrate LNG imports as well as hydrogen production into its own energy strategy.

The two countries might not see fully eye to eye on hydrogen, with Canada focusing recently on so-called “blue hydrogen.”

The fuel is typically derived from natural gas or other fossil fuels and coupled with carbon-capture technology to reduce emissions, making it more politically viable in western Canadian provinces that boast abundant natural gas reserves.

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