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How to build renewables without threatening biodiversity? Carefully

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By illuminem briefings 🌎

· 2 min read


illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Grist or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: A study in Nature Communications highlights the challenges in balancing renewable energy expansion with biodiversity conservation
The research finds that ideal locations for wind and solar energy often overlap with critical habitats and areas important for human needs, creating potential conflicts.

🔭 The context: The study, led by Rachel Neugarten from Cornell University, mapped global biodiversity, development pressures, and renewable energy suitability
It discovered that much of the land suitable for renewables also holds significant value for biodiversity and other human needs, with only 18% currently protected from urbanization and resource extraction.

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: This overlap poses a dilemma for climate change mitigation strategies. While renewable energy is essential for reducing carbon emissions, its development must be balanced with the need to preserve ecosystems and maintain biodiversity, which are also crucial for a sustainable future

⏭️ What's next: The authors suggest careful planning to achieve conservation, climate, and development goals simultaneously
They recommend using already cleared or degraded land for renewable projects and exploring synergies, like combining solar arrays with agriculture, to minimize environmental impacts.

💬 One quote: "Renewable energy is absolutely critical for climate goals. However, if it’s located in the wrong places it could have negative impacts," said Rachel Neugarten, researcher at Cornell University.

📈 One stat: The study does not confirm whether enough land exists to meet global renewable energy needs without harming biodiversity, indicating an ongoing research gap.


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