A continuous increasing demand
The Mediterranean basin benefit of about 5% of the world amount of gas and oil as well as some areas with coal. The Basin also produces nuclear energy (13% of energy consumed) and some renewable energy (hydro-electricity, solar, wind, geothermic, biomass, tide). With its 450 million inhabitants, the statistics of the Blue Plan show that the Mediterranean Region consumes ca. 8% of the world primary energy, and 10% of its electricity. Fossil fuels dominate this consumption (80%) whilst renewable sources of energy only account for 6%. The region also accounts for 8% of the global CO² emissions.
The transport and industry sectors are the main consumers of energy. Virtually every main way of producing, transporting and consuming energy has a potential impact on wetlands:
- The construction of dams for electricity purpose may flood, among others, important wetland habitats, and deprive other wetlands further downstream from water and/or much-needed sediments. Most Mediterranean deltas face this threat currently.
- Energy supplied by electricity, petrol and gasoil allow agriculture extension and intensification through mechanization, pumping and agro-processing, sometimes impacting wetlands directly or indirectly (drainage, water demand, pollution).
- Fossil fuel burning leads to aerial (and ultimately, water) pollution. It also leads ultimately to global warming, which contributes to coastline recession in deltas, lagoons etc.
- Nuclear plants require a lot of water for cooling, and are therefore built nearby rivers, often on former riparian habitats. By warming up the surrounding stretch of river, the rejected water also affects the local ecology of species.
- Wind turbines may, depending on their location, prove either virtually harmless or quite harmful to wetland biodiversity (soaring birds, bats…).
- Electricity lines can also prove to be a deadly threat to some species, e.g. large wetland birds.
- Contrary to several countries of Africa and Asia, firewood and charcoal are not important domestic sources of energy for cooking and warming, which is very positive against deforestation, desertification and watershed degradation.