The Energy Futures project

Climate change is one of the greatest long-term threats to wildlife. We must act now to avoid the worst impacts on wildlife and people.

 Wind Farm on Slieve Rushen, Co, Fermanagh

Overview

In 2008, the UK Government set a target to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (relative to 1990 levels) by 2050. 
 
Achieving this will involve significant expansion of low-carbon, renewable energy technologies. Some of these will require large areas of land or sea for their deployment and may have negative impacts on wildlife.
 
It is important to understand where these technologies can be located with lowest risk for sensitive species and habitats, and to design energy policy so the UK can meet emissions targets while having minimum impact on biodiversity.
 
The Energy Futures project was established in order to explore these complex issues and better understand how the UK can meet its climate targets in harmony with nature.

Objectives

  • To assess the potential energy output from a range of renewable energy technologies using GIS mapping techniques, taking into account available resource and constraints on deployment and ecological sensitivity.
  • To use the DECC 2050 Calculator to develop and compare a range of scenarios for meeting the UK's climate targets with low ecological risk, taking into account other considerations such as cost and energy security.
  • To develop evidence-based policy recommendations which will ensure the ecological risks of meeting our 2050 emissions target are better understood, nature protection is treated as a key driver in energy policy decisions and potential harmful impacts to the natural environment are minimised in the UK's low carbon transition.

Progress

  • The RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision report was launched at twin events in London and Edinburgh on 24 May, 2016, to present the project's research and recommendations, and to initiate a debate on how the UK can meet its climate targets in harmony with nature.
  • The methods used in the project for mapping opportunities, constraints and ecological sensitivities for a range of onshore and offshore renewable technologies have been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal (PLoS ONE).

Planned Work

The RSPB will continue to call on the UK Government and devolved administrations to follow the policy recommendations in 'The RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision' report, and campaign for the UK to deliver its 2050 climate targets in harmony with nature.
 
The future of energy affects all of us, and the whole of the natural world. Everyone needs to be part of this vital conversation. If you would like to get in touch, please do so using the contact details below. Or you can join the conversation online using #power4nature. 

Partners

Thank you to The Crown Estate and The British Trust for Ornithology and Ecotricity who provided data for GIS mapping undertaken as part of the Energy Futures project. This data and the supporting advice provided greatly assisted with this research.

Download

Meeting the UK's climate targets in harmony with nature. Date: 20 May 2016. PF, 1.88Mb.

The RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision - Summary report

Recommendations for achieving low carbon energy in harmony with nature in the UK Date: 20 May 2016. PDF, 3.36Mb.

RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision - Summary of recommendations

Recommendations for achieving low carbon energy in harmony with nature in Scotland. Date: 20 May 2016. PDF, 3.52Mb.

RSPB Scotland's 2050 Energy Vision - Summary of recommendations

Meeting the UK's climate targets in harmony with nature Date: 20 May 2016. PDF, 7.25Mb.

The RSPB's 2050 Energy Vision - Technical report
Tagged with: Country: England Country: Northern Ireland Country: Scotland Country: Wales Project status: Ongoing Project types: Research