Renewable energy production will exacerbate mining threats to biodiversity

| May 30, 2021 | Leave a Comment

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Media Type: Article - Foundational

Date of Publication: September 1

Year of Publication: 2020

Publication City: London, UK; Berlin, Germany

Publisher: Springer Nature

Author(s): Laura J. Sonter, Marie C. Dade, James E. M. Watson, Rick K. Valenta

Journal: Nature Communications

Volume: 11, 4174

Categories: , , ,

Abstract

Renewable energy production is necessary to halt climate change and reverse associated biodiversity losses. However, generating the required technologies and infrastructure will drive an increase in the production of many metals, creating new mining threats for biodiversity. Here, we map mining areas and assess their spatial coincidence with biodiversity conservation sites and priorities. Mining potentially influences 50 million km2 of Earth’s land surface, with 8% coinciding with Protected Areas, 7% with Key Biodiversity Areas, and 16% with Remaining Wilderness. Most mining areas (82%) target materials needed for renewable energy production, and areas that overlap with Protected Areas and Remaining Wilderness contain a greater density of mines (our indicator of threat severity) compared to the overlapping mining areas that target other materials. Mining threats to biodiversity will increase as more mines target materials for renewable energy production and, without strategic planning, these new threats to biodiversity may surpass those averted by climate change mitigation.

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