Energy Demand and Biodiversity ImpactsMany energy sources result from ecosystem services such as those creating fossil fuels eons in the past. On the other hand, our escalating energy requirements cause significant changes in the ecosystems through the search for energy and through energy usage. Since energy is a basic component for economic development, we must provide it on a sustainable basis without jeopardizing biodiversity. Society must evaluate the trade-offs and develop appropriate mitigation strategies.
Most energy sources have significant biodiversity impacts. Use of different energy sources involves trade-offs and impacts on biodiversity and human well-being. Biodiversity management is an essential tool for mitigating and adapting to climate change, for example, preventing deforestation and conserving ecosystem services.
Several management and policy initiatives will affect the demand for energy and biodiversity. Many countries are investing heavy resources in alternative renewable energy sources such as biofuels. The world output of biofuels is projected to increase fivefold from 20 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2005 to 95 Mtoe in 2030. Biofuels are generated on 1% of the globe's arable land. They support 1% of road transportation demand, but that is projected to increase to 4% by 2030, with the largest gains in the U.S. and Europe.
Substantial improvement in productivity of biofuel crops is essential to increase the proportion of biofuel usage as transport fuel. Moreover, large-scale biofuel production will create huge areas of biodiversity-poor monocultures by replacing ecosystems such as low-productivity agricultural areas that have high biodiversity value.
The private sector in the energy industry is beginning to accept its role as a protector of the environment. There are several collaborations between the private sector and non-governmental organizations. These are permitting a broader understanding of impacts and mitigation strategies that are economically viable. In addition to governmental regulation, the use of payments for ecosystem services such as the emerging carbon market represents an innovative approach to addressing the impacts of energy use on the environment. There is a growing global carbon market worth over US$10 billion in 2005, 10 times the value of the previous year, and more than the value of the entire U.S. wheat crop in 2005.