Our scope of influence
Like every other aspect of human life, ENGIE Group activities are in constant interaction with biodiversity.
This is a two-way interaction: Group activities are partly dependent on ecosystem services in terms of biomass resources, water and climate, and our activities also impact directly on biodiversity. The fragmentation and disruption of habitats caused by the footprint occupied by our facilities represent the main impact of Group activities (soil permeability compaction, interruption of ecological continuity, etc.).
The largest of these footprints is imposed by gas storage facilities and pipelines (since these are underground, they do not contribute to fragmenting the land) and the reservoirs used for hydropower generation.
Conventional power generating plants impact on biodiversity through their atmospheric emissions of CO2, NOx, SO2 and particulates, which are measured annually and published in the environmental report, and their abstraction and discharge of water for process cooling.
Wind farms are most disruptive to birds and bats. The shipping of LNG GNL can contribute to the spread of invasive exotic species via vessel ballast water. Environments favorable to the development of invasive exotic species can also be created on worksites, especially during construction work.
The main indirect impacts relate to the Group’s sourcing of supplies, especially coal and biomass.
The protection of biodiversity is part of the Group’s business with the risks and opportunities in term regulatory and reputation. Poor consideration or anticipation of regulatory changes ever stronger or stakeholder expectations may in particular cause delays or stoppages in our business, and therefore significant financial costs . The protection of biodiversity is fully involved in environmental and social responsibility of the Group and constitutes a strong challenge to the territorial base of its activity.
As part of its contribution to resisting the global erosion of biodiversity, remediate its impacts on the basis of the Avoid, Reduce, Offset principle, and continue to benefit from systemic ecosystem services, the Group made biodiversity an integral part of its strategy, business lines and its new product development as early as 2010.
In that year, the Group set itself the goal of implementing a targeted action plan on all its priority sites in Europe by 2015.
As an integral part of its biodiversity policy (link), this goal was recognized as a voluntary commitment under the terms of the French National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) by the French Ministry for Ecology. The ENGIE biodiversity policy and voluntary commitment project have been formally approved with the support of the French committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Our biodiversity reporting
The biodiversity indicators used to monitor implementation of the ENGIE commitment to biodiversity are based on the concept of priority sites and the gathering of data from those sites covered by an action plan.
A priority site is a site that poses a potential risk to biodiversity due to the nature of its activity, and which is located in or near a protected area and has no barrier (whether natural or artificial) between its location and the protected area concerned. The trend in the number of party sites that have implemented an action plan is shown in the following table.
Percentage of priority sites in Europe that have implemented an action plan
The new requirements set in 2012 for biodiversity indicators in accordance with the commitments set out in the NBS therefore show a temporary and apparent regression in results, but this does not reflect a reduction in the number of initiatives implemented by the Group, which has implemented such biodiversity initiatives continually since 2012. At the end of 2015, 99% of those sites identified as priorities in Europe had action plans in place.
The biodiversity indicators were audited in 2015 by the statutory auditors as part of the Group’s annual environmental reporting campaign.
Our biodiversity initiatives
Application of the Avoid, Reduce, Offset principle in the context of new project development.
The non-financial project criteria submitted to the investment committee include a criterion specific to application of the Avoid, Reduce, Offset principle based on the national regulations and recommendations made by the IFC (International Finance Corporation).
For example, a series of environmental studies were conducted prior to construction of the Hangest-sur-Somme wind farm as the basis for designing a project with reduced impact on wildlife, plant life, noise levels and landscape. Special support measures are also in place to promote biodiversity, including the monitoring of bird life for three years after commissioning of the wind farm, encouraging the growth of the bat population by facilitating access to appropriate cavities, and the introduction of three 5,000 m² plots of uncultivated scrubland 1 km from the wind farm.
Implementation of action plans for operational sites
The initiatives already implemented illustrate the depth and diversity of action the Group can take to protect or even improve biodiversity at local level: late mowing and differentiated management of green open spaces, the introduction of nesting boxes and wildlife refuges, limiting the use of herbicides by using sheep to control vegetation, remediation of brownfield sites, anchorless drilling methods to protect corals, the introduction of ultrasound techniques to prevent fish being caught in the cooling water inlet filters of conventional power generating plants, fish passes to enable fish to bypass dams, reduction or complete stoppage of wind power generation during bird migration periods, etc.
Biodiversity action plans are also deployed outside Europe, and include programs to restore plant life and protect wildlife and fish on the banks of dams and reservoirs in Brazil, as well as the initiatives implemented for conventional power generating plants in Thailand to limit their intake and discharge of seawater.
The Group also renewed its partnership with the whale conservation group Souffleurs d’écume last October, and has fitted two of its LNG carriers with systems to avoid collisions with whales. The Group’s fleet of LNG carriers will be fitted with ballast water treatment systems as part of a project beginning this year.
Caring for the environment is also a source of improved performance for the Group in terms of its reputation, internal motivation, authorization procedure reduction, heritage development, etc. Feedback from the Group’s action plans shows that some sites have gone beyond their targeted action plan goals, and have adopted proactive approaches that aim to involve and engage with all stakeholders; examples include the differentiated biodiversity management project at Céré-La ronde, which Storengy now intends to roll out to all its sites, and which has earned the company NBS accreditation. GRTgaz and GRDF have also been awarded NBS accreditation for their projects. The main aim of the GRTgaz project is to use gas network easement strips as part of the ecological corridor network essential for allowing wildlife and plant species to move between areas of natural environment. The GRDF project is designed to identify and mitigate the biodiversity impact of its worksites.
Addressing indirect effects
The Group’s biodiversity commitments focus primarily on the scope of its own operations. Nevertheless, ENGIE is also involved in developing biodiversity good practices internally and externally through its sourcing of energy, especially biomass and coal. The Group is a partner of the Sustainable Biomass Partnership and Bettercoal initiatives, which define environmental risk evaluation and mitigation measures that include biodiversity risks.
Nature-based solutions are developed on the basis of biodiversity and ecosystems to contain the overall impact of natural disasters and/or climate change (lien IUCN). FirstLight Hydro in the USA is involved in a project to improve the stability of reservoir banks by creating planted buffer zones.
A similar solution based on the use of indigenous plants was adopted by ENGIE in 2013 to improve the protection of its Monterrey facility in Mexico from storms, extreme winds, flooding and drought.
In actioning its plans and achieving its goals, ENGIE is supported by two lead partners: the French Committee of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and the France Natural Environment Federation (FNE).
The partnership with the French Committee of the IUCN enables:
- the French Committee to provide the Group with its expertise and enable greater incorporation of biodiversity issues into its strategy and business activities
- communal discussion and consideration of issues with the members, experts and corporate partners of the French Committee
- ENGIE to support and take part in initiatives and projects led by IUCN France.
The France Natural Environment Federation partnership is focused at a more operational level via support for practical initiative implementation and relationships with local non-profit organizations.
- The development of resources that allow us to adapt our strategies or indicators to work at local and operational levels
- The discussion of new opportunities and contact with local experts
- The rollout of communication and awareness initiatives