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World Resource Extraction Could Surge 60% By 2060, UN Warns

Global resource extraction is projected to surge by a staggering 60 per cent by the year 2060, posing a significant threat to climate goals and economic stability, according to a report released by the United Nations on Friday. The report, titled the 2024 Global Resource Outlook and compiled by the UN Environment Programme’s International Resource Panel, highlights the dramatic increase in infrastructure development, energy demand, and consumer consumption over the past fifty years, resulting in a threefold rise in the world’s utilization of materials. This surge in demand, averaging over 2.3 per cent annually, spans across various sectors, including energy, food, transport, and housing.

A notable aspect of the report is the disproportionate consumption patterns between wealthy and low-income countries. People in wealthier nations are shown to drive the majority of resource demand, utilising six times more materials and accounting for ten times more climate impacts compared to those in less affluent regions. This discrepancy underscores the urgent need for a paradigm shift in global resource management strategies.

The report also highlights the detrimental environmental and health consequences associated with resource extraction and processing, which contribute to over 60 percent of planet-warming emissions. Lead author Hans Bruyninckx warns that if current trends persist, the world risks surpassing the temperature targets outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. This landmark agreement aims to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius and preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Bruyninckx emphasises the critical importance of immediate action to curb resource extraction and transition towards sustainable practices to mitigate the adverse impacts on climate and ecosystems. Failure to address these challenges could jeopardize the achievement of climate objectives and economic prosperity on a global scale.

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