Two Sides of the Same Coin: Renewable Energy Impacts on Biodiversity Conservation

September 28, 2021 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Webinar Only

An ELI ELI Program

The rapid transition of energy resources away from fossil fuels toward renewables has been widely recognized as an essential tool in mitigating climate change. Yet renewable energy development projects and facilities can be land use intensive and have the potential to negatively impact conservation areas. Renewable energy often requires more land than fossil fuel production, with infrastructure in instances fragmenting or even eliminating high-quality wildlife habitat. These negative impacts of wind and solar projects often pose an overlooked threat to global biodiversity, which is in steep decline, with over 1 million animal and plant species now threatened with extinction.

In an attempt to tackle these pressing environmental issues, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) #14008 “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” This EO outlines a way forward for tackling climate change through increasing both renewable energy production and acreage of conservation areas. This includes a directive to increase renewable energy production on federal public lands and offshore waters, doubling offshore wind by 2030. The EO also pledges a target of conserving 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030. Commonly known as “30x30,” this initative is one of the most ambitious conservation goals in US history.

With competing goals, key questions remain: how compatible is renewable energy development with biodiversity conservation? Could President Biden’s renewable energy directive conflict with the 30x30 conservation goals? Join the Environmental Law Institute, leading experts, and fellow Emerging Leaders for an in-depth exploration of the challenges and intersections of climate change mitigation, renewable energy development, and biodiversity conservation.

James McElfish, Jr.
, Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program, and Senior Attorney, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Patrick Donnelly, Nevada State Director, Center for Biological Diversity
Priya Gandbhir, Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation
Margaret Spring, Chief Conservation and Science Officier, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Patrick Donnelly presentation
Priya Gandbhir presentation
Margaret Spring presentation

ELI ELI programs are for the exclusive benefit of Emerging Leaders.