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Climate protection, in "the intersections" Combining clean energy and biodiversity

Amaya Quincoces and Elena S. Laso

Madrid, January 28 (EFE).- With the planet overheated by high temperatures, the world celebrates today the World Day to Reduce CO2 Emissions, although with pessimism after the record levels of concentrations in 2023 and in the current context of climate action the “crossroads” to connect clean energy and biodiversity.

In 2023, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations reached 419.3 parts per million (ppm), 51% above pre-industrial levels and comparable to levels millions of years ago, when sea levels today would have endangered all of the planet's coastal cities.

Amid the social debate about the role that renewable energies should play, the energy and climate manager of the organization “Ecologists in Action”, Javier Andaluz, a graduate in environmental sciences, assures Efe in statements that this technology is “without a doubt priority piece” in global decarbonization and the climate fight.

CO2 is a gas whose concentrations in the atmosphere have skyrocketed due to human activity; It is the main cause of global warming, although not the only one, and is closely linked to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil or gas.

To meet the population's energy needs without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere as part of the global energy transition, “renewable energies will be key” as they do not pollute the environment and come from inexhaustible energy sources such as the sun or wind.

“It is important to ensure that the expansion process maintains the balance” between clean energy production and biodiversity, ecosystems and landscape, with “an appropriate balance” between all these factors, he added.

“However, the reality in the renewable energy sector is that things are not always done as they should; there is some speculation,” he warned.

The data on the CO2 problem is clear: in 2023, emissions from fossil sources will reach a new annual record of 36.8 billion tons into the atmosphere, according to the international scientific group Global Carbon Project.

The growing trend in emissions is exacerbating an increasingly real danger: that the planet will eventually normalize a thermal increase of 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era. However, above these thresholds, scientists say survival may no longer be sustainable.

In the European Union, which is the main proponent of decarbonization due to its green plans and the goal of climate neutrality in 2050, CO2 emissions are being reduced; According to the scientific body Global Carbon Project, it was 7.4% in 2023.

There are a variety of projects around the world to combat the climate crisis: from reforestation to research into carbon capture and storage technologies, biofuels or green hydrogen.

European cities are also changing with ambitious urban planning and sustainable mobility plans to promote public transport and electric vehicles.

In Spain there are renewable energy projects “whose surface area is almost four times larger than the area of ​​the city in which they are located,” warned the head of Ecologistas en Acción.

“There is a tendency to locate facilities in rural areas with small populations because the land there is cheap,” he added.

In Spain, in Extremadura, in both Castile and Aragon, electricity is “overproduced” with renewable energies; Not for the needs of the population or for personal consumption, but to meet the needs of other large population groups such as Madrid, Barcelona or the Basque Country, he warned.

“I am not saying that renewable projects, which are of fundamental importance, will be paralyzed, but that a balance between energy and the environment will be ensured,” emphasized the responsible environmentalist.

Globally, climate efforts are heterogeneous. Among the countries that emit the most CO2, China, the USA and India stand out.

The consequences of the concentrations of this gas in the atmosphere are devastating: extreme weather events have become more frequent and more intense, and heat waves with enormous impacts are occurring, such as those that occurred all over the world last year.

Added to this are heavy rains, floods, severe droughts and increasingly violent hurricanes.

When it comes to wind energy, the rotor blades of wind turbines run the risk of becoming a “death trap” for passing or migratory birds, as well as damaging the landscape, as is the case with power lines, says Javier Andaluz.

As for solar photovoltaics, installations in rural areas can provide a refuge for animals, but in other cases they can distract them from their daily activities such as camping and training to hunt, for example among birds of prey, thus disrupting the natural balance between predators and prey.

The problem of mineral extraction is another major problem related to renewable energy. There are important natural resources for producing batteries for electric cars and photovoltaic systems, which has sparked a mining frenzy that is endangering biodiversity.

“Habitats of great ecological value are being lost,” warns engineer Víctor Resco, professor at the University of Lleida and doctor at the University of Wyoming (USA). EFE