Global resource consumption ‘to double by 2060’

The OECD expects extraction of biomass, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals to soar

By Jonny Bairstow

By 2060, global consumption of raw resources is set to nearly double to 167 gigatonnes.

That’s according to a new OECD report, which warns as the global economy expands, living standards rise and world population soars to 10 billion people, it will be mirrored by the projected increase in the extraction and processing of raw materials such as biomass, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals.

The OECD warns this in turn is likely to worsen air, water and soil pollution, as well as significantly contribute to climate change.

This increase comes despite a shift from manufacturing-based economies to service industries and continual improvements in manufacturing efficiency, without which, environmental pressures would be likely to be much worse.

The report predicts the biggest rise in resource consumption will be in minerals, particularly in developing economies – although it expects the recycling industry to become more competitive and grow, it estimates it will remain a much smaller industry than mining and extracting primary materials.

It warns in the absence of new emissions-cutting policies, overall emissions from materials management will grow from 28 gigatonnes to 50 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalents by 2060.

Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, said: “Growth in materials use, coupled with the environmental consequences of material extraction, processing and waste, is likely to increase the pressure on the resource bases of our economies and jeopardise future gains in wellbeing.”

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