Global resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970.
That’s according to a new report prepared by the International Resource Panel and released by UN Environment, which shows this growth included a 45% increase in fossil fuel use and a five-fold increase in the use of non-metal minerals.
By 2017, fossil fuel usage had shot up from six billion tonnes to 15 billion tonnes.
Over the period, the annual extraction of materials grew from 27 billion tonnes to 92 billion tonnes – this is expected to double again by 2060.
The report warns this could see greenhouse gas emissions increase by 43% as the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food makes up half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress.
The UN warns this damage will worsen unless the world “urgently undertakes a systemic reform of resource use” and moves to a circular economy based on extended product life cycles, intelligent product design, standardisation and recycling.
Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment, said: “The Global Resources Outlook shows that we are ploughing through this planet’s finite resources as if there is no tomorrow, causing climate change and biodiversity loss along the way.
“Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop.”