The European Commission announced its plans to revise the regulatory framework for Trans-European Energy Infrastructure (TEN-E regulation) in its EU Green Deal. Building the energy infrastructure that Europe needs while halting the biodiversity and climate crises is a two-fold challenge that the revised TEN-E regulation must deliver. Protecting nature and delivering trans-European energy infrastructure at the same time is possible. Power lines and underground cables can co-exist if sited properly and their impacts are mitigated to limit wildlife mortality.
The COVID-19 crisis and the economic consequences which follow have the full attention of the EU and national governments. How they choose to emerge from this pandemic must be done in way which does not fuel the other global threats we face – first among them the climate and biodiversity crises. A collective approach based on scientific evidence must be taken towards the climate and environmental emergency in Europe and globally.
New nature-compatible energy infrastructures are needed in order to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But if these are not planned properly, they run a high chance of negatively impacting nature. The location of energy projects, in particular, is critical for nature conservation and to fulfil the legal requirements under the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
In our latest BirdLife Europe and Central Asia briefing paper, we call for a fossil free and nature-compatible Trans-European Energy Infrastructure which:
1. Addresses climate and biodiversity together via nature-sensitive energy developments
The Ten-E regulation must be consistent with the Paris Agreement and protect nature while building energy infrastructure.
2. Avoids biodiversity loss.
Habitats and vulnerable species must be protected through the label “Projects of Common Interest” (PCI) through referring to targets and objectives for energy, climate and biodiversity policies.
3. Ensures all TEN-E regulation is net-zero and nature compatible.
Fossil fuel infrastructure (gas and oil) and fossil gas dependent technologies like blue hydrogen must be avoided. New flexibility options to back up the canon of TEN-E regulation must be added. Routing must avoid areas of ecological sensitivity and high biodiversity value. PCI status should only be given to projects that exclude protected areas due to their importance to nature.