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Benefits of Renewables Outweigh Negative Impacts, REN21 Report Finds

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14 Feb 2024
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Benefits of Renewables Outweigh Negative Impacts, REN21 Report Finds

 

Benefits of Renewables Outweigh Negative Impacts, REN21 Report Finds

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

The report argues that renewables are the most sustainable energy source.

It maps and analyses the potential negative impacts scaling up renewables can cause in areas including land and water use, biodiversity, forests, human rights, critical materials, and waste generation.

The report concludes that these impacts can be reduced or eliminated with careful siting of renewable energy infrastructure and the preservation of natural resources, the development of circularity in renewables supply chains, and the involvement of all stakeholders, especially affected communities.

 

REN21 published a report that aims to build global confidence in renewables and provide a shared understanding “to embark on a path for a sustainable and equitable energy transition.” The report finds that renewables have “far lower” environmental and social impacts than other energy sources, their benefits outweigh the potential negative impacts, and such impacts can be avoided or mitigated with the adoption of existing best practices.

REN21 is a global renewable energy community that brings together actors from science, academia, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and industry to “collectively drive the rapid, fair transition to renewables.”

Its ‘Renewable Energy and Sustainability Report’ notes that fossil fuels are responsible for 75% of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, cause deadly pollution, and drive biodiversity loss. Unlike fossil fuels, the report states “most renewable energy installations can co-exist with other uses like agriculture or fishing,” can be deployed on degraded, contaminated, and marginal land, and can leverage existing infrastructure such as rooftops, railways, highways, and parking lots. In addition, most materials extracted for renewables are “highly recyclable,” according to the report.

The report argues that renewables are the most sustainable energy source. It maps and analyses the potential negative impacts scaling up renewables can cause in areas including land and water use, biodiversity, forests, human rights, critical materials, and waste generation. The report concludes that these impacts can be reduced or eliminated with careful siting of renewable energy infrastructure and the preservation of natural resources, the development of circularity in renewables supply chains, and the involvement of all stakeholders, especially affected communities.

The report offers examples of good practice, effective regulations, industry standards and certifications, and initiatives that can be applied directly or adapted to local content, to achieve the sustainable deployment of renewables. It also finds that scaling up energy efficiency and implementing sustainable mobility practices, including, for example, public transport and cycling, can minimize the use of non-renewable materials such as critical minerals. Technology advancements and circularity can also reduce critical material uses.

Released on 30 January 2024, the report builds on knowledge aggregation and multi-stakeholder dialogues tracking innovation and technological advancements in the renewable energy sector, including evolving policies, regulations, and standards. It brings together crowd-sourced data and evidence from a range of stakeholders, including environmentalists, industry leaders, and human rights organizations. [Publication: Renewable Energy and Sustainability Report] [Publication Landing Page] [REN21 Press Release]

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