The scientific literature is awash with research that demonstrates that climate change will
have a very significant net negative effect on biodiversity. Biodiversity isn’t a luxury to be set
aside when times are hard; biodiversity is integral to the ecosystem services that our natural
environment provides to humans and other species; services that are essential to human
It is necessary to rapidly and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order
to prevent levels of climate change that would decimate biodiversity, and for marine
biodiversity also to prevent severe acidification of the oceans. This in turn will require
countries to, inter alia, develop renewable energy to reduce the quantity of fossil fuel energy
used. In the UK this will require the development of marine renewable energy.
The quantity of marine renewable energy needed in the future in the UK is debated but all
main political parties, as well as the Committee on Climate Change, believe it must be a
significant part of the energy mix. Friends of the Earth suggests that 5-10,000 offshore wind
turbines may be necessary, alongside hundreds of kilometres of wave power and thousands
of tidal stream turbines. Others, such as National Grid or Atkins, suggest less marine
renewable energy than this is necessary, either by recommending large-scale nuclear power
deployment and/or by advocating energy pathways with much greater greenhouse gas
emissions. But all agree marine renewable energy is necessary.
Within this context Friends of the Earth and the Plymouth University Marine Institute – who
are leading researchers in marine renewable energy – agreed that it would be beneficial to
inform debates on the issue of marine renewable energy deployment with evidence and
expert opinion with regards impacts on biodiversity and fisheries. This publication is the
result. It is the work of expert academics at Plymouth University and elsewhere who, in the
finest tradition of research, maintained their academic independence throughout.
We hope that you find this research of interest and use.