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IUCN Urges Careful Planning with Renewables

IUCN Urges Careful Planning with Renewables

"Renewable energy interventions are good, but do not overlook the potential impacts on the environment." This is IUCN's advice to the 13 SIDS DOCK Pacific members currently meeting in Nadi, Fiji.

Pacific energy and climate change experts are discussing key energy issues facing Pacific Islands such as access to modern and affordable energy services particularly for remote and rural island communities. This meeting is set to finalize several aspects of SIDS DOCK, Small Islands Developing States Sustainable Energy Intiative, including the design of its Support Programme Platform and the implementation of 14 planned projects with an estimated investment of USD 40 million.
What has been proposed at this meeting is a new pathway for energy sector development in the Pacific and that is a renewable energy pathway.

"While renewable energy is deemed by many as 'clean energy' we must remember that nature is the source of this form of energy and is frequently affected by its use. The health and well-being of nature and its ecosystems must be integrated into any plans for renewable energy to ensure sustainability for both the energy service and people’s livelihoods," said Anare Matakiviti, Energy Programme Coordinator at IUCN's Oceania Regional Office at the meeting on Tuesday.

Just like the fossil fuels we currently rely on, renewable energy interventions can also have negative environmental impacts. They do not emit greenhouse gases as fossil fuels do, however increasing use of renewable energy resources impacts on natural resources. And in a region that is culturally, socially and economically dependent on nature, careful planning and management is crucial.

"The ecological footprint of the energy sector and associated infrastructure can be significant and involve substantial clearing and habitat degradation," added Matakiviti.

Renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro and geothermal can impact nature in various ways. For instance, wind turbine can disrupt migration of birds and bats, hydro power can affect flows of water and sediments and the ecosystems that rely on these, presence of toxic chemicals in photovoltaic batteries can present a problem both during use and disposal and wastewater from geothermal plants may cause significant pollution of surface and ground water supplies.

"We are not discouraging the use of renewable energy interventions, we simply encourage that countries tread with care by planning and managing well and make informed decisions," emphasised Matakiviti.
IUCN is implementing several renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the Pacific that demonstrate the use of energy systems that are economically efficient, ecologically sustainable and socially equitable.

The SIDS DOCK Pacific Regional Meeting is the second in a series of three SIDS DOCK Regional Meetings. It is called SIDS DOCK as it is designed as a “DOCKing station,” to connect the energy sector in SIDS with the global market for finance, sustainable energy technologies and with the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) carbon markets, and able to trade the avoided carbon emissions in those markets. Estimates place the potential value of the US and EU markets between USD 100 to 400 billion annually.

SIDS DOCK was established to accelerate the transformation of energy sectors of small islands, increase energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate resources for investment in climate change adaptation.

ENDS

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