Europe and Central Asia
26 Nov 2015

Europe’s wildlife needs renewables success

By Finlay Duncan

Wildlife in Europe needs the transition from polluting energy sources to renewables to be a success, according to a new study.

As national energy ministers gather in Brussels to decide on the future of the Energy Union, the Institute for European Environmental Policy has produced a report for BirdLife and its UK Partner, the RSPB.

It examines the energy policies which have worked well and those that have gone wrong up until now and sets out what needs to happen next for the renewable energy revolution to be in harmony with nature.

In Europe binding national targets and plans, agreed at EU level, have successfully driven investment since 2009. However, in many nations this has involved rushed and unplanned delivery of the lowest cost options, such as burning wood in old coal fired power stations or haphazard wind farm planning, putting protected bird species at risk.

Three key points are being made by BirdLife to make sure the transition to renewable energy can be a success; ensure enough investment is being made by the EU and its member states towards renewables, develop national energy plans that are in line with the resources available, rather than leaving investment decisions entirely to the market, and make sure Europe’s current environmental protection laws are safeguarded.

Dr. Ivan Scrase, Senior Climate Change Policy Officer at RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), said: “If the great transition to renewables is a success, we can prevent climate change causing a wave of wildlife extinctions in the coming decades.
But first we must ensure nature does not pay a more immediate price for the choices we make – we must stop losing wildlife habitats to bioenergy production and causing unnecessary impacts with poorly planned infrastructure.”

Catherine Bowyer, IEEP Senior Policy Analyst and Lead Author said: “Without a clear, planned and robust policy framework the predictability and security of renewable energy uptake and environmental benefits are undermined.”

The IEEP study’s publication comes ahead of the release of BirdLife’s new report, The Messengers, on the threats posed by climate change and the solutions offered by nature, which is published on Friday 27th November.

You can read the IEEP’s study, Delivering Synergies between Renewable Energy and Nature Conservation: Messages for Policy Making up to 2030 and Beyond, here.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.