Energy request

General information of the request

Topic of the request:

How are European energy policies affecting biodiversity
and ecosystem services in countries globally?

The scientists mandated to draft the Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 (GSDR) seek a better understanding of the telecoupling effects of the EU’s low carbon energy policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services in countries globally, from an SDG perspective through two questions:

  1. What are the SDG targets that the EU energy policy tries to pursue (also indirectly) and what are the systemic trade-offs and co-benefits that are created beyond the territorial boundaries, where, at what scale, and who are the affected winners and losers?
  2. What policies and governance mechanisms could remedy these impacts; or in hindsight, how could one have chosen pathways to more sustainable development?


Centre for Development and Environment University of Bern - Peter Messerli, Henri Rueff

Date request received:

27 September 2017

Date of first meeting with requesters and EKLIPSE KCB and methods experts:

20 December 2017

Expected deadline for deliverables:

Initially 31 August 2018, extended to December 2018

Background and context of the request

While a renewable energy transition is an unavoidable pathway for decarbonisation, some studies documented its effects on marine ecosystems, avian biodiversity, competing land use for food production, habitat loss and deforestation (i.e biofuels), with potential spill overs beyond the EU territorial boundaries. Other trade-offs may occur such as manufacturing hazards due to a growing demand of extractive resources needed in the fabrication of batteries and solar panels. In addition, important controversies currently animate the political debates centred on the role of nuclear energy and hydropower to support a fossil fuel free future, yet putting pressure on landscapes, biodiversity and ecosystems in Europe and beyond. The full cost and benefits of opting for renewable energy when compared to the opportunity costs of renouncing conventional ones needs to be synthesized through collating existing knowledge and case studies. It is certainly understood that conventional energy sources likewise have impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services globally.

The request builds on the global SGD report. The Global Sustainable Development Board addresses various perspectives of the Sustainable Development Goals, analyzing a way in which the SDG report can help policy members in achieving their agendas, and how we can acquire higher policy coherence.

What are the objectives of the request?

  1. To produce synthetized knowledge on the effect of a low-carbon energy policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services beyond the EU boundaries
  2. To better understand the mechanisms by which energy policy interconnects with biodiversity and ecosystems services in an unforeseen way
  3. To inform policy makers, scientists, UN state members on the above issues and provide policy-oriented solutions to anticipate and mitigate these issues


Current status of the request

At the moment a conceptual model of the interlinkages between EU energy policy efforts and sectors, focusing on trade-offs and synergies with the SDGs is being developed by the EKLIPSE team, supported by a research assistant (external consultant). This model will be discussed with experts during a workshop envisaged for the first half of November. More information to come soon.


Process documentation of the request

The whole process of the request is documented in the Document of work.

Scoping: 1st Meeting with the requester

On December, 20, 2017 a virtual meeting took place between the requester, members of the EKLIPSE Secretariat and the EKLIPSE Knowledge Coordination Body. The aim of this meeting was to go through the request and to clarify the purpose of the request and the expectations of the requester and to discuss how EKLIPSE can help to their purposes.

It was discussed that although the request builds on the global SGD report, this report breaks into smaller scales. Therefore, seen that the energy transition's interests and repercussions are so high, the request should focus on the EU (including the impact of EU’s energy policy on other countries globally).

Call for knowledge

To explore the range of existing knowledge EKLIPSE launched a Call for Knowledge asking for any reference to material, including grey literature and as yet unpublished results to the topic.

This Call for Knowledge was open from 23rd January to 20th February 2018.

Literature screening

In response to the lack of feedback received to the call for knowledge the EKLIPSE Secretariat consulted with the EKLIPSE KCB. It was considered worthwhile to continue the scoping of the request. For this purpose a short adhoc literature screening has been conducted by the EKLIPSE secretariat which yielded another three dozen of sources that are relevant to the request. In addition, experts and institutions have been identified, that could be further reached out to in carrying out the request.

2nd Meeting with the requester

On July, 4, 2018 a virtual meeting took place between the requester, members of the EKLIPSE Secretariat, the EKLIPSE Knowledge Coordination Body and the EKLIPSE methods group. The draft methodological protocol suggested by the EKLIPSE methods expert working group was discussed and accepted. The methods EWG recommends an expert consultation approach with aspects of Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping and Del-phi process to address the request. The outputs will consist of a diagrammatic conceptual model of the interlinkages between EU energy policy efforts and sectors, focussing on trade-offs and synergies with the SDGs. Adjacency matrices will be used, as a result the strongest links and interrelations between concepts and terms will be identified.

Seen the narrow timeline, the EKLIPSE team decided that instead of an expert working group, a consultant/research assistant shall be hired to carry out necessary analyses which will then be discussed at a workshop with experts.

The envisaged framing for the work of the research analyst will set the focus on the four main routes of the EU Energy Roadmap (energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and carbon capture and storage) and the creation of a list of terms out of this.

Hiring a research assistant and preparation of a workshop

In September 2018, a research assistant has been hired to do conceptual work on the request (on the basis of the methodological protocol) and to prepare a workshop with experts. The workshop is envisaged for the first half of November.