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According to a report by the UN, the extraction of natural resources is expected to increase by 60% by the year 2060.
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According to a report by the UN, the extraction of natural resources is expected to increase by 60% by the year 2060.

According to a confidential analysis from the UN, the worldwide extraction of natural resources is projected to rise by 60% by 2060, leading to catastrophic impacts on the climate and the environment.

According to the presentation of the UN Global Resource Outlook, natural resource extraction has increased by nearly 400% since 1970 as a result of industrialization, urbanization, and population growth. This information was shared with EU ministers during a presentation last week.

According to a report coming out in February, the removal of natural resources from the Earth is causing significant impacts on the planet. This includes 60% of the effects of global warming through land use changes, 40% of air pollution, and over 90% of water scarcity and loss of biodiversity related to land.

Janez Potočnik, a past European commissioner and co-chair of the UN panel responsible for the report, stated that if raw materials are excessively exploited as predicted, it would likely result in a rise in the frequency and severity of storms, droughts, and other climate-related disasters.

“Higher figures mean higher impacts,” he said. “In essence, there are no more safe spaces on Earth. We are already out of our safe operating space and if these trends continue, things will get worse. Extreme weather events will simply become much more frequent and that will have ever more serious financial and human costs.”

The report places importance on measuring equity and human wellbeing rather than just GDP growth. It suggests taking steps to decrease overall demand instead of solely focusing on increasing “green” production.

Electric vehicles, for example, use almost 10 times more “critical raw materials” than conventional cars, and reaching net zero transport emissions by 2050 would require increasing critical mineral extraction for them sixfold within 15 years.

The report suggests that remote work, improved local services, and eco-friendly transportation choices like bicycles and trains could be just as successful as increasing vehicle production in fulfilling people’s mobility requirements while causing less harm to the environment.

According to Potočnik, simply reducing carbon emissions is not enough to address the issue of resource consumption and environmental damage. In addition to cleaning up the supply side, efforts must also be made to reduce demand.

The paper suggests that a significant portion of Europe’s housing issue could be addressed by utilizing vacant homes and underused spaces, as well as promoting community-oriented living, instead of constructing new homes on undeveloped land.

The report suggests that implementing “systemic resource efficiency” could potentially lead to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and increased equity by 2060, possibly by more than 80% compared to current levels. It also states that material and energy needs for transportation could be reduced by over 40% and for construction by approximately 30%.

According to the source, our connection to the natural world can only be resolved through either collective wisdom and effort, or through a difficult and painful process involving conflicts, pandemics, and migration. The future must embrace sustainability or there will be no future at all.

According to Zakia Khattabi, the minister responsible for climate and environment in Belgium, which is currently presiding over the EU, resource usage is a major contributor to the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Reducing our consumption of resources is crucial in order to mitigate these interconnected environmental issues. The circular economy policies of the EU must prioritize measures for reducing demand, while also ensuring a fair transition in order to effectively address this problem.

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Under the European Green Deal, EU countries’ material and waste footprints are monitored and logged online. The bloc has not so far moved to legislate for use reduction targets but the issue is expected to be discussed at a meeting of EU environment ministers in June.

A representative from the EU presidency stated that progress on the circular economy in the EU has been tracked using indicators, including those related to our material consumption. However, there is currently a lack of consensus on the specific goal of reducing this consumption footprint among European countries.

According to sources, the EU is expected to be the primary group of developed nations to back this policy, while the US, Japan, Australia, and Canada are all against it.

Europeans, on average, have a yearly material consumption of 15 tonnes per individual. Finland has the highest consumption with 46 tonnes per person, while the Netherlands has the lowest at 7 tonnes per person.

Finland also generates the most waste per person in the EU (20,993kg), while Croatia produces the least (1,483kg). The average EU citizen’s waste footprint in 2020 was 4,815kg.

Source: theguardian.com