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UN: “Extraction of Raw Materials to Increase by 60% by 2060 With Serious Implications for the Environment”

UN: “Extraction of Raw Materials to Increase by 60% by 2060 With Serious Implications for the Environment”

An unprecedented UN analysis to which The Guardian has had access reveals an expected 60 per cent increase in the extraction of raw materials worldwide by 2060, with “serious implications” for the environment and the climate.
The report attributes the almost 400% increase in the extraction of natural resources since 1970 to factors such as industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth.

Currently, the depletion of the Earth’s natural materials contributes to 60 per cent of the impacts of global warming, 40 per cent of air pollution and more than 90 per cent of water stress and land-related biodiversity loss, according to the report due to be released in February, according to the British newspaper.

Janez Potocnik, a former European commissioner and co-chair of the UN panel that produced the analysis, says that a shortage of raw materials on the scale predicted would almost certainly trigger more frequent and more serious storms, droughts and other climate disasters.

“Higher values mean higher impacts,” he said. “Essentially, there are no more safe spaces on Earth. We’re already out of our safe operating space and, if these trends continue, things are going to get worse. Extreme weather events will simply become much more frequent and this will have increasingly serious financial and human costs,” he told the newspaper.

It is noted that electric vehicles, for example, use almost 10 times more critical raw materials than conventional cars and, in order to achieve zero net emissions in transport by 2050, it would be necessary to increase the extraction of critical minerals for these vehicles sixfold within 15 years.

The report prioritises measurements of equity and human well-being over GDP growth and proposes measures to reduce global demand rather than simply increasing the production of green technologies.

Thus, according to the report, remote working, better local services and low-carbon transport options such as bicycles and trains can be just as effective as increasing vehicle production in meeting people’s mobility needs, with less harmful environmental impacts.

“Decarbonisation without decoupling economic growth and well-being from resource use and environmental impacts is not a convincing answer and the currently prevailing focus on cleaning up the supply side needs to be complemented with demand-side measures,” said Potocnik.

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Our relationship with nature “will be resolved either with collective wisdom and endeavour or in a harsh and very painful way with conflicts, pandemics, migrations,” says the report. “The future will be green or there will be no future,” the document warns.


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