A new research by the International Resource Panel has posited that smarter and more efficient use of the world’s natural resources today means the next generation will reap annual economic benefits of $2 trillion by 2050, while offsetting the costs of ambitious climate change action.
According to the report recently released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “the global population is set to grow by 28 per cent and is predicted to use 71 per cent more resources per capita by 2050. Without urgent steps to increase efficiency, the global use of metals, biomass, minerals such as sand, and other materials, will increase from 85 to 186 billion tonnes per year by 2050”
The report titled “Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications”, found that while investment in ambitious climate action would cause a 3.7 per cent fall in per capita Gross World Product by 2050, this cost to the economy could be offset by more efficient use of resources.
For example, between 2005 and 2010, a UK programme recycled or reused seven million tonnes of trash destined for the landfill. This move saved six million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, close to 10 million tonnes of virgin materials and 10 million tonnes of water. It also increased business sales by £176 million, reduced business costs by £156 million and created 8,700 jobs.
Globally, more sustainable use of materials and energy would not only cover the cost of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, but also add an extra $2 trillion to the global economy by 2050.
According Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, “This is an environmental win-win. By making better use of our planet's natural gifts, we will inject more money into the economy to create jobs and improve livelihoods. At the same time we will create the necessary funds to finance ambitious climate action.”
The report analyzed four paths that countries could take over the next three decades, ranging from ‘business as usual’ to a scenario where countries adopt both ambitious climate policies and improve resource efficiency.