Biodiversity Protection in an Aspiring Carbon-Neutral Society : A Legal Study on the Relationship between Renewable Energy and Biodiversity in a European Union Context

University dissertation from Uppsala : Department of Law, Uppsala University

Abstract: There is a vision in the EU for a transition to a low carbon society, including a carbon-neutral energy system, containing a high share of renewable energy. However, this vision is not isolated from other political goals, such as halting the loss of biodiversity by 2020. Both of these goals are accompanied by EU legislation promoting their respective aims.One of the central challenges, in light of this transition, is the very nature of the legal system – that it is rather fragmented – both regarding the substantive law applicable to renewable energy activities and the legal processes that renewable energy activities face. The aim is therefore to discuss certain challenges arising from the fragmented legal system applicable to renewable energy activities.The dissertation is based on EU and Swedish law. First, I investigate the EU’s competence in the field of renewable energy and address how such policy may better reflect the protection of biodiversity. Thereafter, in a Swedish context, I analyse the relationship between protection of biodiversity and promotion of renewable energy. Finally, I address the problems arising from the fragmented legal procedures of renewable energy activities, with the main example of wind power installations and new transmission lines.In general, this study suggests that the current system lacks consistency between renewable energy and nature protection legislation and there is a coordination problem with regards to the permit processes of the development of renewable energy activities. These conclusions point towards a need for a broader perspective on the development of renewable energy activities, which could include: a more integrated planning system for renewable energy activities; exploring the use of derogation rules from the Water Framework Directive; and a more integrated EU renewable energy policy with specific sustainability criteria.

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