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Source: World Wildlife Fund

November 3, 2023 (Washington, DC) – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) today released a first-of-its kind report of the potential risks and benefits of a rapid shift to renewable energy for people, wildlife and our planet. The findings provide a clear and tangible illustration of the stark differences between a rapid transformation to a renewable energy future and one reluctant to leave fossil fuels behind.

The report, Building a Nature-Positive Energy Transformation, estimates an energy transition’s overall impact through 30 key metrics across eight impact areas: air quality, water quality, ecosystems and biodiversity, area footprint, water use, free flowing rivers, society and human wellbeing, and mining. The results demonstrate that across those metrics, a renewable transition is dramatically better.

“The results help us focus on the big picture and make it clear that renewables are significantly better for nature and people, now and in the long-term. As we see a growing conversation on both the positive and negative impacts of a renewable transition, this report serves as important context to why a rapid transition to renewables is the right answer,” said Marcene Mitchell, senior vice president of climate change, WWF.

Key findings include:

  • An energy system powered by renewables will be far better across a range of metrics — 2-16 times better — for nature and people. Rapidly transforming our energy system will have a positive impact on a range of key resources including air and water quality, human health, biodiversity and ecosystems.
  • The largest differences are in actively mined areas, air and water quality impacts, biodiversity loss, land lost and degraded from climate impacts, poverty risk, exposure to chronic water scarcity, biome shifts, heat stress and flooding risk. These improved outcomes are possible largely due to the decommissioning of coal mines, reduction in fossil fuel combustion, and lower climate change impacts in the Rapid Transition future.
  • Twice as many jobs are projected to be created under a rapid transformation, having a positive impact on the workforce.
  • Reducing the frequency and intensity of climate-driven disasters will save $2 trillion per year in infrastructure damage.
  • The renewable transition could place additional demands on water use, land footprint, and free flowing rivers, but the report outlines strategies to avoid or dramatically minimize these risks.
  • Although the demand for critical minerals will increase, the amount of land impacted by mining will actually decrease in a renewable powered future, compared to one powered largely by fossil fuels.
  • In a fossil fuel-powered future, the amount of land lost to flooding, desertification and wildfires will be considerably larger than the footprint for renewable energy development.

“We can’t overstate the importance of an accelerated energy transition. Beyond the climate benefits, it is essential to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the ecosystems that keep our planet healthy,” said Paulina Ponce de León, managing director and partner, Boston Consulting Group. “But for this potential to be realized, we need global, systemic change in our energy sector that puts nature and people at the heart of our efforts.”

In addition, the report provides policymakers, managers and stakeholders a toolbox of solutions to facilitate a transition that is both rapid and careful and lays out a framework for avoiding and minimizing the impacts of a rapid transition to the extent possible. To build at the necessary speed and scale, planning processes must involve affected stakeholders early and often, especially local communities, while simultaneously addressing environment and energy system needs. This will reduce conflicts that could slow the transition while ensuring that the transition contributes to an equitable and nature-positive future.

A copy of the full report is available here.

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WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in nearly 100 countries for over half a century to help people and nature thrive. With the support of more than 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat the climate crisis. Visit to learn more and keep up with the latest conservation news by following @WWFNews on Twitter and signing up for our newsletter and news alerts here.

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