Planning for a sustainable energy future: IUCN reacts to Shell’s Strategy Update

23 March 2009 | News story

Last week Shell repeated its intention to disinvest in wind and solar power and concentrate its efforts and investments on biofuels. IUCN takes note of Shell’s decision and hopes that it can be convinced to show more leadership in renewable energy in the future.

It is IUCN’s view that Oil and Gas companies should transform themselves into Energy companies and play an active and positive role in building a sustainable energy future for the world. A future where the societal choices about energy mixes and energy consumption have a radically reduced carbon footprint, are more equitable, do not threaten biodiversity, and ensure continued supply of ecosystem goods and services.

IUCN’s efforts towards a more sustainable energy future include promoting energy policies and strategies that mitigate the impact of growing energy demand on biodiversity and encouraging the incorporation of ecosystem services that underpin sustainable and equitable energy into energy policies and strategies.

Shell’s intentions to concentrate its efforts and investments on biofuels make it all the more important for IUCN to continue its work on developing robust standards and criteria for sustainable biofuel production. We will support the design and implementation of sound regulatory frameworks for biofuel markets, and develop practical tools for achieving sustainability throughout the biofuels supply chain. We are aware that biofuels can pose risks to ecosystems and livelihoods – particularly from current technologies, but if managed properly they can be biodiversity friendly, provide local livelihoods, reduce dependency on fossil fuels and provide equitable and economical alternative energy.

IUCN has compiled tools to help manage the environmental footprint of biofuel production and continues to develop new tools to manage, for example, the risks of introducing invasive species through biofuel plantations. Shell’s collaboration with IUCN on biofuels tools has helped ensure that these tools are relevant to the oil and gas industry and to Shell’s own work. The latter is particularly important given that Shell is a major player in the global biofuels market. IUCN’s work with Shell is helping to ensure that standards and criteria are robust and that the tools are adopted quickly by biofuel producers and buyers. In this way the biofuels marketplace is being influenced directly.

Societies need to move quickly to new energy systems based on alternatives to fossil fuels, using innovative distribution systems, and based on different energy consumption patterns. Decisions made by societies on energy futures will have substantial consequences on the integrity and diversity of nature. IUCN has a key role to play in promoting a rapid transition to a sustainable energy future which means an energy mix that has a radically reduced carbon footprint, is more equitable and does not impact on biodiversity.