CSR

Biodiversity

Like every other aspect of human life, ENGIE Group activities are in constant interaction with biodiversity.

Protecting biodiversity is a priority for the Group's businesses and projects.

 

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 particulate matters, and their abstraction and discharge of water for process cooling.
 
Wind farms are most disruptive to birds and bats.

Environments favorable to the development of invasive exotic species can be created on worksites, especially during construction work. It is important to integrate this risk in the project phase.
 
The main indirect impacts relate to the Group’s sourcing of supplies, especially biomass.

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.

 Our commitments

 

As part of its contribution to resisting the global erosion of biodiversity, remediate its impacts 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.

The latest commitments were made in 2021 in the framework of act4nature international and Entreprises Engagées pour la Nature-act4nature France.

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Chronology of the Group's commitments to preserve biodiversity:

2010Launch of the Group’s biodiversity guidelines
2012Commitments in the French national strategy for biodiversity supported by the Ministry of Ecological Transition
2016Commitment in the Business and Biodiversity Pledge, initiated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) during the COP13 in Cancun, Mexico.
2018

Commitment in act4nature, an initiative launched by Entreprise pour l’Environnement (EpE) to mobilize companies to biodiversity issues.

The 2021 statement of those commitments is now available.

2019Commitment to UNESCO World Heritage sites, and more specifically to natural and mixed sites.
2021Commitment in act4nature international (evolution of act4nature), for the Group's global commitments and in Entreprises Engagées pour la Nature-act4nature France (the rest of the commitments in the French national strategy for biodiversity)

 

ENGIE renews and broadens its commitments by defining a new roadmap 2020-2030, based on the pressures defined by IPBES, the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals), act4nature common commitments and the challenges specific to the Group’s activities. This commitments are designed according to 4 axis:

Axis 1 – Land footprint and ecological continuities

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Through its various sites, ENGIE can contribute to the preservation of biodiversity by optimizing the use of its land footprint, restoring ecological corridors and reducing the presence of invasive alien species.

In 2010, the Group fixed the goal of implementing a targeted action plan on all its priority sites in Europe by 2015. For the period 2016-2020, this objective has been integrated into the internal objective of integrated and concerted environmental management.

For the period 2020-2030, ENGIE has stepped up its commitments to identify priority sites for biodiversity and has set an ecological management objective for all its industrial sites.

Action plans for priority sites

A priority site is defined as a site located in or near a biodiversity sensitive area (IUCN Categories I-IV, UNESCO Natural and Mixed, RAMSAR, MAB, KBA, Natura 2000). A site identified as a priority must establish an appropriate action plan, in consultation with stakeholders.

 

Target: 50% priority sites with an action plan established with relevant stakeholders by 2025, and 100% by 2030.

 

  • Wind farm and Agroforestry to act in favor of biodiversity

The ENGIE Green wind farm in Mont de la Grévière, France, is identified as a priority site because of its proximity to a Natura 2000 protected area. In order to offset the loss of habitat for agricultural plain avifauna linked to the establishment of the wind farm, in 2016 ENGIE Green supported the planting of agroforestry trees on 18 hectares of Ardennes agricultural plots.

This co-development (agroforestry and wind power) is beneficial for the soil and biological diversity, but also for the agricultural world and renewable energy.

  • The plantation of a little more than 4600 ml of noble wood trees of several species allows to welcome several species at different periods of the year.
  • The grassy strips at the foot of the trees are very good refuges for insects and lowland species
  • Water storage and filtering capacity of the soil (confirmed by the study of the hydrological and biogeochemical functions of the soil)
  • Biomass creation and carbon storage
  • Land more suitable for agriculture

 

In order to verify the effectiveness of this action, ENGIE Green has launched, in 2019, an environmental monitoring of these plots in partnership with the French Association of Agroforestry and the Regroupement des Naturalistes Ardenais (ReNard).

Among the results of this first year of monitoring, two striking results have already emerged:

  • Water infiltrates 11 times faster in the trees than elsewhere
  • The number of insects per hectare is nearly 4 times higher on the agroforestry plots than on the control plots, and the specific diversity is more than 10 times higher.  

 

Agroforesterie

 

Ecological site management

For all of the Group’s industrial activities, ENGIE is committed to implementing ecological management on its sites, which means, at a minimum, no use of phytosanitary products and differentiated management of green spaces. 
 

Target: 50% of the sites in 2025 and 100% in 2030. 

 

  • Solar parks and pollinisators in the US

Since 2016, ENGIE NorthAmerica has incorporated revegetation as a standard element in the design of solar parks, using mixtures of grasses and flowering plants that grow naturally in the area, providing a pollinator-friendly ecosystem. These natural habitats protect the pollinator food chain. Flowers provide nectar for insects, birds eat seeds and insects, and plant stems and brush provide nesting and safety for all.

Today, 100% of ENGIE Distributed renewables' solar farms in 14 states benefit from this best practice. This represents almost 300 hectares of planting. 

In addition to the positive effects on biodiversity, this technique prevents soil erosion and degradation, absorbs rainwater, and reduces suspended dust by 80%.

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Axis 2 – Climate change

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The preservation of biodiversity and the fight against climate change are two profoundly linked issues. Since the appearance of the first forms of life, biodiversity and climate have interacted constantly. 

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming is not only compatible with the preservation of biodiversity, it is also one of the conditions for its success. The reverse is also true: by preserving the ecosystem balances of a territory and by preserving the ecological functionalities of a habitat, the climatic conditions are also naturally regulated.

 

Learn more about ENGIE's commitments to the Climate

Nature-based Solutions

Nature-based Solutions rely on ecosystems to address societal and environmental challenges. They play an essential role in climate change adaptation and biodiversity preservation.
To act simultaneously on the challenges of climate change and biodiversity, ENGIE is committed to implementing identified projects that comply with the Nature-based Solutions standard defined by IUCN.

 

Target: development of 10 projects identified as Nature-based Solutions by 2022 and implementation of these projects in 2025.

 

  • Mangrove plantation, Abu Dhabi

ENGIE Middle East, in association with the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency, sponsored the launch of the first phase of the “Blue Carbon” environmental and social responsibility project. 

Through the Blue Carbon project, 4,000 mangrove seeds were sown by drone near the ENGIE site in Mirfa to restore the mangroves in Abu Dhabi's coastal waters. Mangroves are vital for storing blue carbon, which is carbon captured by the world's oceans and coastal ecosystems, including seagrasses, mangroves and salt marshes. 

Although much smaller in size than tropical forests, mangroves sequester more carbon at a faster rate and can do so for thousands of years.

This action creates an environmental benefit by preserving and restoring biodiversity and also addresses the challenge of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Learn more about Nature-based Solutions

 

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Axis 3 – Value chain

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Impacts on biodiversity are spread across the entire value chain. The Groupe therefore integrates in its risk and opportunity analyses the potential impacts of its own activities as well as those of the supply chain and maintains a dialogue with stakeholders throughout the value chain.

Mitigation Hierarchy

Among the CSR criteria of the projects presented to the Commitment Committee (CDE) figures a criterion related to the application of the Mitigation hierarchy, based on the national regulations and the recommendations of the IFC (International Finance Corporation). 
ENGIE is committed to applying the Mitigation hierarchy throughout the world in consultation with the stakeholders. Offset projects will follow IUCN recommendations (WCC 2016 Res 059)
 

Target: 100% of the files submitted to the Group’s CDE are subjected to a concerted analysis of the biodiversity challenges in 2022 and extend progressively to files not passing through the CDE Group

 

  • Application of Mitigation Hierarchy in the implementation of the Novo Estado Transmission System project (Brazil)

The transmission lines of the Novo Estado project extend for approximately 1.8 thousand kilometers. ENGIE Brazil has designed the route of these lines to avoid as much as possible the most sensitive areas, in order to avoid any interference with conservation units, indigenous lands and quilombola communities.

The project also includes, where appropriate, the use of self-supporting towers in fragmented forest areas where detours were not possible, in areas with a high density of threatened and legally protected species, and in points where secondary vegetation is in intermediate and advanced stages of regeneration.

To reduce, control and offset environmental impacts, several environmental programs and sub-programs were implemented. The actions include, among others, monitoring and rescue of fauna and flora, archaeological survey and rescue, speleological survey, environmental education, construction control, social communication, recovery of degraded areas, environmental management and the action plan for malaria control.

 

  • Loregaz project, Loretto site in Ajaccio (Corsica, France)

The Loregaz project is an ENGIE project of public interest which aims at making the gas supply of the Ajaccio region sustainable. It consists in building 2 new gas tanks encased in concrete silos, replacing the current overhead tanks.

Before the construction, Hermann's turtles and the orchids Serapias neglecta and Serapias parviflora were moved, under control of an ecologist, in order to avoid that the future construction site impacts them. Subsequently, in the application of a conservation management, these species were the subject of inventories and monitoring.

Furthermore, in order to offset the environmental impacts generated by the construction of the installation (on 2 hectares), ENGIE has associated with the Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels de Corse (CEN Corse) to manage, until 2038, 23 hectares of land suitable for the development of impacted species. The management of these offset areas, located in Loretto, Vignola and Suartello, has been entrusted to CEN Corse because of its expertise in the management of natural areas and its knowledge of local territories. 

Finally, other offset measures were taken to contain the development of invasive exotic species and to maintain the "mosaic" environment (alternating open and closed environments) favorable to Hermann's turtle, protected orchids and other species on the sites, such as reptiles and avifauna.

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Supply chain

ENGIE is committed to integrating biodiversity criteria into life cycle assessments to carry out an in-depth analysis of the impacts and dependencies with regard to biodiversity for the Group’s activities throughout the value chain, in order to identify the challenges and the appropriate solutions to meet them. 

 

Target: A least 2 activities per year by 2025.

 

  • Life Cycle Assessment in SBTN Step 1

Life Cycle Assessment is one of the methods proposed for the analysis of impacts and dependencies regarding biodiversity, in the Science-Based Target for Nature (SBTN) implementation guide. ENGIE is participating in the pilot phase of this work. 

 

 

  • Sustainable biomass supply

The Group is involved in developing biodiversity good practices internally or externally through its sourcing of energy, especially biomass.

ENGIE is a partner of the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) initiative, which defines environmental risk assessment and mitigation measure that include biodiversity risks. In accordance with SBP standards, the Group commits to using biomass from sustainably managed forests.

Axis 4 – Awareness-raising

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The Group’s commitments can only be met with the involvement of employees. We are therefore developing tools to raise awareness and share best practices that are accessible to all.

 

 

Training and awareness of employees

In order to raise awareness and train its employees on biodiversity and its link with their work, ENGIE provides in-house training modules, as well as an internal Yammer network on biodiversity.

 

Target: 2 modules minimum per year by 2025, available in 3 languages

3000 employees aware per year

 

 

Sharing good practices

In order to promote and encourage initiatives in favor of nature and to give recognition to these actions, ENGIE provides to all employees a platform for sharing good practices.

 

Target reached: the platform was launched in 2021. 

 

The initiatives already implemented illustrate the depth and diversity of action the Group can take to protect or even improve biodiversity at local level:

 
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Late mowing and differentiated management of green open spaces

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Introduction of nesting boxes and wildlife refuges

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Limiting the use of herbicides by using sheep to control vegetation

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Fish passes to enable fish to bypass dams

Other actions :

  • Reduction or complete stoppage of wind power generation during bird migration periods
  • Remediation of brownfield sites
  • The introduction of ultrasound techniques to prevent fish being caught in the cooling water inlet filters of conventional power generating plants

 

Biodiversity action plans are also deployed outside Europe, such as programs to restore flora and protect fauna and ichthyofauna along the banks of dams and reservoirs in Brazil, or actions implemented for conventional power generating plants to limit the impact of water intakes or discharge of seawater .

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. They adopt proactive approaches that aim to involve and engage with all stakeholders, such as the biodiversity project of differentiated management implemented on all gas storage sites in France.

 Our partners

 

In implementing 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 French Committee of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)

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.

 

Sébastien Moncorps

Interview with Sébastien Moncorps
Director of the French Committee of the IUCN
(International Union for Conservation of Nature)

 
What is the role of the French Committee of IUCN?

The French Committee of IUCN works for the conservation of nature and the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources, in accordance with the mission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the global level. To do this, we mobilize the 62 French organizations that are members of the IUCN as well as a network of more than 250 experts. France is the second country, after the USA, with the largest number of IUCN members in the world. Our programs are dedicated to biodiversity policies, species, protected areas, ecosystems, environmental education, overseas and international cooperation. Thanks to the expertise of our network, the French Committee of IUCN draws up assessments, makes recommendations and manages projects to improve policies, knowledge, the commitment of stakeholders and the implementation of actions in favor of biodiversity conservation (read the whole interview). 

 

France Natural Environment Federation (FNE)

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 initiative;