From food to fossil fuels, the hunger for resources is growing by an average of more than 2.3% every year, according to the 2024 Global Resource Outlook



The rapid increase in the extraction of resources can significantly worsen the impact of climate change. Now, the United Nations (UN) has called for massive changes in energy, food, transport, and housing, after stating that the extraction of resources could surge 60%  by 2060, putting climate goals and economic prosperity at risk.

The huge expansion of infrastructure, energy demand and consumer consumption over the last half century, specifically in wealthier countries, has tripled the world’s use of materials, according to the 2024 Global Resource Outlook by the UN Environment Programme’s International Resource Panel. According to AFP, from food to fossil fuels, the hunger for resources is growing by an average of more than 2.3% every year.

People from rich countries use six times more materials and are responsible for ten times more climate impacts than those in low-income countries, according to the analysis. The report also pointed out that the extraction and processing of resources account for over 60% of Earth’s warming emissions.

According to the lead author Hans Bruyninckx, if this situation continues then the world will far exceed the temperature limits set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which countries agreed to limit global warming below two degrees Celsius and preferably at 1.5C.

“You’ve got resource use that is increasing, too much impact on Earth systems that is not tenable,” he told AFP. The report warns that computer modelling suggests an increase of almost 60% by 2060 from 2020 levels, from 100 to 160 billion tonnes.

According to an AFP report, some of the recommended actions include policy changes, focused on high-consumption countries, which could reduce the projected increase in resource use by a third as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% and improve health.

The researchers also suggested dietary changes could reduce food waste and dependency on animal protein. They also recommended more efficient transport systems, and denser housing using recycled building materials.

This is not the first time the UN has warned about the excessive extraction of resources. In March 2019, a report released at the UN Environment Assembly, Global Resources Outlook 2019, pointed out that the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute to half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress. 

The report’s suggestions included extending product life cycles, smart product design and standardisation and reuse, recycling and remanufacturing.



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