Resource efficiency could help cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 74%, says UNEP Study

18 May, Tokyo – The International Resource Panel, hosted by the United Nations environment Programme (UNEP) has released a summary of a new report, showing that more efficient resource use coupled with ambitious action on climate change, could achieve up to a 74% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, whilst also stimulating economic growth.

The report is based on new modelling and calculates that under existing trends – increasing population, urbanisation, and an expanding global middle-class – natural resource extraction will increase from 85 to 186 billion tonnes over the next 35 years. However, the report announces that resource efficiency policies and ambitious global action on climate change could:

  • Reduce global resource extraction by up to 28% by 2050, compared to a reference scenario based on existing trends;
  • Cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 74% by 2050; and
  • Increase economic output (GDP) by at least 1% in G7 countries and globally.

The International Resource Panel believes that policy intervention is vital, as markets will not be able to achieve higher rates of resource efficiency alone. The report says that, “higher growth and employment arising from greater resource efficiency will only be brought about through higher rates, and different directions, of innovation and technical change than those driven just by markets. It will require higher investments in resource-efficient infrastructure and products, and intelligent, targeted regulation.”

The report, ‘Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications’, was presented at the G7 Environmental Minister’s Meeting in Toyama, Japan. The full report will be released later this year. Click to access the report summary.

The IRP report was released alongside the OECD’s Policy Guidance on Resource Efficiency.

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