How to reconcile climate and biodiversity actions?

News Article

As the international community is called to re-examine our relationship with the world of nature, one fact is certain: despite all our technological advances, we are still completely dependent on healthy ecosystems for our clean air, fresh water, food, medicines, pest control – and even energy.

Amid a climate of increasing pressures on natural habitats and ecosystems deterioration, the theme for this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity is “Building a shared future for all life”, highlighting that biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better and the answer to several sustainable development challenges.

Biological diversity is often understood in terms of all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area — the animals, plants, and microorganisms, as well as the genetic differences within each species, and the variety of ecosystems that hold those interactions among their members (plants, humans, and other animals).

Today, 81% of natural habitats have been severely deteriorated by unsustainable activities in the European Union. The current drivers of such biodiversity loss are land-use change and the over-exploitation of resources, mainly caused by population pressure, demand for wood and construction material, or agricultural expansion.

An even bigger threat is looming, however. By mid-century, climate change will have become the leading driver of biodiversity loss. If we do not act now to reverse our carbon emissions, ecosystem collapse will accelerate, putting human well-being at risk.

In December 2020, 50 of the world’s leading climate and biodiversity experts told the world about the importance of tackling climate change and biodiversity loss simultaneously. Their joint IPCC-IPBES report highlighted how essential it is to confront global warming and biodiversity loss together, with solutions addressing both issues having the best chance of success.

Even though it’s clear that climate change cannot be addressed without building the right renewable energy capacity, it can take an average of four to  six years to deploy new installations, partly due to local biodiversity-related issues. Such permitting constraints are delaying the urgent action needed to tackle both crises at once.

To address this twin problem amid a target of increasing the EU’s renewable energy capacity by more than 500 GW by 2030, Eurelectric has explored the potential of limiting global warming while protecting biodiversity. To do so, we’ve worked with leading utilities – including frontrunners aimingto be net contributors to biodiversity as well as civil society, to identify best practices while deploying renewable energy and restoring nature.  

The “Power Plant” project will be launched on 16 June at Eurelectric’s Power Summit in Brussels. There, leading utilities, civil society leaders and policy experts will gather to discuss how electrification can contribute to biodiversity regeneration – shifting previously single-issue debates on renewable energy generation, or the preservation or restoration of Europe’s biodiversity, to a collaborative conversation about our shared future.