Is Environmental Impact Assessment fulfilling its potential? The case of climate change in renewable energy projects

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Abstract

One of the topics receiving much attention in recent years is climate change and the potential of its integration in impact assessment, both in terms of achieving mitigation and adaptation. Renewable energy projects are part of the efforts to mitigate climate change, replacing the use of fossil fuel with CO2-neutral energy sources. A variety of these projects are subject to environmental impact assessment (EIA), which raises the following questions: What role does an impact assessment play? When is the project environmentally friendly? How are climate change-related impacts assessed in projects with inherent positive effects on climate change? This paper reviews practice, and takes up these questions based on a document study of 19 EIA reports of renewable energy projects in Denmark. The results show that climate change mitigation is included in 18 of the EIA reports reviewed, while adaptation is absent. Also, the results show an emphasis on positive impacts in the reports, and in a few cases discussions of enhancements. Identification and assessment of negative climate change impacts are less apparent. This leads to a discussion of the results in the light of the purpose of EIA.
Original languageEnglish
JournalImpact Assessment and Project Appraisal
Volume32
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)234-240
Number of pages6
ISSN1461-5517
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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renewable energy
environmental impact assessment
environmental impact
climate change
energy
fossil fuel
energy source
mitigation
project
Denmark
impact assessment

Keywords

  • environmental impact assessment
  • climate change
  • renewable energy
  • positive impacts
  • Enhancement

Cite this

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title = "Is Environmental Impact Assessment fulfilling its potential?: The case of climate change in renewable energy projects",
abstract = "One of the topics receiving much attention in recent years is climate change and the potential of its integration in impact assessment, both in terms of achieving mitigation and adaptation. Renewable energy projects are part of the efforts to mitigate climate change, replacing the use of fossil fuel with CO2-neutral energy sources. A variety of these projects are subject to environmental impact assessment (EIA), which raises the following questions: What role does an impact assessment play? When is the project environmentally friendly? How are climate change-related impacts assessed in projects with inherent positive effects on climate change? This paper reviews practice, and takes up these questions based on a document study of 19 EIA reports of renewable energy projects in Denmark. The results show that climate change mitigation is included in 18 of the EIA reports reviewed, while adaptation is absent. Also, the results show an emphasis on positive impacts in the reports, and in a few cases discussions of enhancements. Identification and assessment of negative climate change impacts are less apparent. This leads to a discussion of the results in the light of the purpose of EIA.",
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Is Environmental Impact Assessment fulfilling its potential? The case of climate change in renewable energy projects. / Larsen, Sanne Vammen.

In: Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2014, p. 234-240.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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AB - One of the topics receiving much attention in recent years is climate change and the potential of its integration in impact assessment, both in terms of achieving mitigation and adaptation. Renewable energy projects are part of the efforts to mitigate climate change, replacing the use of fossil fuel with CO2-neutral energy sources. A variety of these projects are subject to environmental impact assessment (EIA), which raises the following questions: What role does an impact assessment play? When is the project environmentally friendly? How are climate change-related impacts assessed in projects with inherent positive effects on climate change? This paper reviews practice, and takes up these questions based on a document study of 19 EIA reports of renewable energy projects in Denmark. The results show that climate change mitigation is included in 18 of the EIA reports reviewed, while adaptation is absent. Also, the results show an emphasis on positive impacts in the reports, and in a few cases discussions of enhancements. Identification and assessment of negative climate change impacts are less apparent. This leads to a discussion of the results in the light of the purpose of EIA.

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