Countries are grappling with two interconnected challenges: climate change and biodiversity loss. Both have severe implications for human health, societal well-being and the economy, necessitating urgent and ambitious action. While efforts to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change are often mutually reinforcing, conflicts and trade-offs may arise. This is evident in the expansion of renewable power.

To achieve the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, the world must electrify energy end-uses and rapidly scale up low-emissions sources of electricity. In IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 scenario consistent with the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, renewable power capacity increases three-fold by 2030 and more than eight-fold by 2050. While reducing climate-related pressures on biodiversity, renewable power expansion could exacerbate other pressures. Some renewable power projects adversely affect biodiversity, for example, through habitat loss, direct species mortality and disturbance. Such impacts can accumulate across projects and over time with potentially significant consequences.

The transition to low-emissions power systems must align not only with the Paris Agreement but also the new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This requires an integrated, strategic approach to sector and project planning that systematically considers biodiversity from the outset. Failure to account for biodiversity has not only negatively affected nature, it has resulted in renewable power projects being delayed or cancelled, thereby undermining the transition.

This report, Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Renewable Power Infrastructure, underscores the need to simultaneously increase renewable power and protect biodiversity. In addition to comprehensively reviewing the impacts of solar power, wind power and power lines on biodiversity, the report presents good practices and tools for mainstreaming biodiversity into power sector planning and policy. It also discusses the suite of policy instruments governments can use to encourage the industry to mitigate adverse biodiversity impacts and promote positive outcomes.

With most renewable power infrastructure yet to be deployed, we have a considerable opportunity to develop electricity systems that deliver better outcomes for both climate and biodiversity. I believe this report provides government planners, regulators and environmental policy makers with valuable guidance on how to protect our species and ecosystems while scaling up renewable power.

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