Print

PARIS: October 22, 2018. A report from the OECD says the world’s consumption of raw materials will rise to 167 Gigatonnes by 2060 from 90 Gigatonnes today as the world’s population increases to 10 billion, placing twice the pressure on the environment.

Earlier this month the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned a global warming of 1.5°C would lead to climate damage costs of US$54 trillion; a 2°C warming would be US$69 trillion; and an increase to 3.7°C would produce costs of US$551 trillion.

Without significant government intervention – including by the Trump administration - the world is on track to warm to 3.4°C by 2100.

Current global wealth is around US$100 trillion.

International Trade the Circular EconomyIn the absence of new emissions-cutting policies, the OECD report says overall emissions from materials management will grow from 28 to 50 Gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent by 2060.

The increase comes despite a shift from manufacturing to service industries and continual improvements in manufacturing efficiency, which has lessened the amount of resources consumed for each unit of GDP. Without this, environmental pressures would be worse says the OECD.

The report, presented at the World Circular Economy Forum in Yokohama, Japan by OECD deputy secretary general Masamichi Kono, says the biggest rises in resource consumption will be in minerals, including construction materials and metals, particularly in fast-growing developing economies.

The recycling industry, currently a tenth the size of the mining sector in terms of GDP share, is likely to become more competitive and grow but will remain a much smaller industry than the mining of primary materials.

Meanwhile Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands and the UAE have announced they are joining over 50 government and business leaders who are part of the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), which was launched at this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland – not to be confused, it suggests, with “Davos in the Desert”, Saudi Arabia.

Japan recently launched its ‘4th Fundamental Plan for Establishing a Sound Material-Cycle Society’; the Netherlands government aims to achieve Circularity by 2050 and halve the use of primary resources by 2030; Denmark has launched its Circular Economy Strategy; and the UAE says it is committed to shaping strategic action to advance the circular economy.

PACE is also focused on waste from electronics. In 2016, 44.7 million tonnes of harmful e-waste was generated, equivalent to the weight of 4,500 Eiffel Towers. At the same time, the UN estimates that some €55 billion worth of secondary raw materials lays idle in e-waste.

Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of Climate Change and Environment commented: “The circular economy is gaining momentum as a Sustainability paradigm. As the essence of this concept has always been at the heart of the UAE’s national agenda, we are proud to join PACE to scale up the transition to a robust circular economy.”