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Resources extraction sector responsible for 80% of biodiversity loss and half world’s carbon emission, UN reports finds

UN Environment has recently released its 2019 Global Resources Outlook, showing that the extraction and processing of natural resources sectors, such as the mining and farming sectors, are responsible for more than 90% of global biodiversity loss and water stress.

Every year the world’s population consumes more than 92b tons of materials, including biomass (mainly food), metals, fossil fuels and minerals, and consumption is growing at the rate of 3.2% per year. Land use change accounts for over 80% of biodiversity loss and 85% of water stress, mainly due to agriculture activities. The extraction sector, on the other hand, is responsible for 20% of health impacts from air pollution and 26% of world’s carbon emissions.

The study highlights that the global economy, so far, has been focusing on improving labour productivity, at the cost of materials. However, this is not justifiable into a world where environmental impacts have become the limiting factor of production, requiring the necessity to rather focus on resource productivity. Therefore, the study says, ‘the decoupling of natural resource use and environmental impacts from economic activity and human well-being is an essential element in the transition to a sustainable future.’

The various documents from the Global Resources Outlook can be accessed here.

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