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The influence of the global electric power system on terrestrial biodiversity

The influence of the global electric power system on terrestrial biodiversity
The influence of the global electric power system on terrestrial biodiversity
Given its total contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, the global electric power sector will be required to undergo a fundamental transformation over the next decades to limit anthropogenic climate change to below 2 ℃. Implications for biodiversity of projected structural changes in the global electric power sector are rarely considered beyond those explicitly linked to climate change. This study uses a novel spatially explicit consumption-based accounting framework to examine the impact of demand for electric power on terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity globally. We demonstrate that the biodiversity footprint of the electric power sector is primarily within the territory where final demand for electric power resides, although there are substantial regional differences with Europe displacing its biodiversity threat along international supply chains. The relationship between size of individual components of the electric power sector and threat to biodiversity indicates that a shift to non-fossil sources such as solar and wind could reduce pressures on biodiversity, both within the territory where demand for power resides and along international supply chains. However, given the current levels of deployment of non-fossil sources of power, there is considerable uncertainty as to how the impacts of structural changes in the global electric power system will scale. Given the strong territorial link between demand and associated biodiversity impacts, development of strong national governance around the electric power sector represents a clear route to mitigate threats to biodiversity associated with efforts to decarbonise society over the coming century.
0027-8424
26078-26084
Holland, Robert
9c245e65-06bb-4b0e-8214-2b00ad2a47df
Scott, Kate
ec72b337-821a-4b97-8e97-2f83503b65ff
Agnolucci, Paolo
2b9a09fe-bc65-4377-8c00-a1505abe1978
Rapti, Chrysanthi
7fb00525-a2fb-48e3-bc3c-87e2b1031052
Eigenbrod, Felix
43efc6ae-b129-45a2-8a34-e489b5f05827
Taylor, Gail
f3851db9-d37c-4c36-8663-e5c2cb03e171
Holland, Robert
9c245e65-06bb-4b0e-8214-2b00ad2a47df
Scott, Kate
ec72b337-821a-4b97-8e97-2f83503b65ff
Agnolucci, Paolo
2b9a09fe-bc65-4377-8c00-a1505abe1978
Rapti, Chrysanthi
7fb00525-a2fb-48e3-bc3c-87e2b1031052
Eigenbrod, Felix
43efc6ae-b129-45a2-8a34-e489b5f05827
Taylor, Gail
f3851db9-d37c-4c36-8663-e5c2cb03e171

Holland, Robert, Scott, Kate, Agnolucci, Paolo, Rapti, Chrysanthi, Eigenbrod, Felix and Taylor, Gail (2019) The influence of the global electric power system on terrestrial biodiversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116 (51), 26078-26084. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1909269116).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Given its total contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, the global electric power sector will be required to undergo a fundamental transformation over the next decades to limit anthropogenic climate change to below 2 ℃. Implications for biodiversity of projected structural changes in the global electric power sector are rarely considered beyond those explicitly linked to climate change. This study uses a novel spatially explicit consumption-based accounting framework to examine the impact of demand for electric power on terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity globally. We demonstrate that the biodiversity footprint of the electric power sector is primarily within the territory where final demand for electric power resides, although there are substantial regional differences with Europe displacing its biodiversity threat along international supply chains. The relationship between size of individual components of the electric power sector and threat to biodiversity indicates that a shift to non-fossil sources such as solar and wind could reduce pressures on biodiversity, both within the territory where demand for power resides and along international supply chains. However, given the current levels of deployment of non-fossil sources of power, there is considerable uncertainty as to how the impacts of structural changes in the global electric power system will scale. Given the strong territorial link between demand and associated biodiversity impacts, development of strong national governance around the electric power sector represents a clear route to mitigate threats to biodiversity associated with efforts to decarbonise society over the coming century.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2 December 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 2 December 2019
Published date: 2 December 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 436531
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/436531
ISSN: 0027-8424
PURE UUID: 504e4a1b-7ab2-45cf-94ae-e1bd5568fb74
ORCID for Robert Holland: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3038-9227
ORCID for Felix Eigenbrod: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8982-824X
ORCID for Gail Taylor: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8470-6390

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 12 Dec 2019 17:30
Last modified: 13 Nov 2021 02:50

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Contributors

Author: Robert Holland ORCID iD
Author: Kate Scott
Author: Paolo Agnolucci
Author: Chrysanthi Rapti
Author: Felix Eigenbrod ORCID iD
Author: Gail Taylor ORCID iD

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