How Resource Effenciency Could Finance Ambitious Climate Action
By admin March 31, 2017

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Photo by Anthony Ingram

The International Resource Panel, a group of experts in natural resource management hosted by the UN Environment, published a report earlier this month demonstrating how using our natural resources more efficiently would allow an annual economic benefit of up to $2 trillion per year by 2050. The Group of Seven (G7) commissioned this research in 2015. Entitled Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications, the report was released during a Group of Twenty (G20) workshop on resource efficiency in Berlin earlier this month. It developed four scenarios ranging from countries continuing to use natural resources at the current rate to them developing ambitious environmental policies and ways to limit the use of natural resources.


Not only would resource efficiency in G7 countries increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $600 per person by 2050, but it would also reduce global resource use by 28 percent by the same time if paired with climate action. On the contrary, if we continue in the current trend of resource use, “the annual resource use per capita would grow over by 70 percent” in the next 30 years.


As the Head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim, said, “This is an environmental win-win.” Indeed, a more sustainable use of materials and energy would not only add $2 trillion to the economy and create jobs, it would also cover the cost incurred by keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (35 Fahrenheit).


To underline the potential of the scheme elaborated in the report, the International Resource Panel took the example of the UK, where it was implemented between 2005 to 2010. Seven million tons of waste destined for landfill sites were recycled which had the effect of reducing business costs by almost €180 million and stopped 6 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from polluting the air.


Despite the report’s general optimism with regards to resource efficiency, underlining its potential to create jobs, enabling the achievement of the climate targets set at a global level, not everyone would benefit evenly from these changes. Entire economic sectors like mining and quarrying would be affected by the diminution of resource extraction. In order to address this point, the report stresses the importance of implementing efficient policies enabling the smooth transition to better practices and ways of consumption.


Even with its set of challenges, this report develops arguments that challenge those who may be reluctant in investing in renewable energies and promoting environmental policies by highlighting the economic benefit of changing our ways of consumption to increase resource efficiency.


Read More:

The report

The International Resource Panel

UNEP press release on the report

UN Smarter use of natural resources can inject $2 trillion into global economy by 2050

EURACTIV Better resource efficiency could be worth trillions

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