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Extraction of raw materials to reportedly rise by 60% by 2060

An unpublished UN document acquired by The Guardian claims that the globe’s extraction of raw materials will increase by 60% by 2060. Such rapid acceleration would inevitably have huge implications for our climate.

Despite the fact that the extraction of rare earth metals and minerals accounts for roughly 60% of anthropogenic global warming, the industry is tipped for exponential growth by 2060.

According to an unreleased United Nations document – seen and divulged by The Guardian – a 60% bump in resource mining is expected to occur by 2060. The prospect of meeting the terms of the Paris Agreement appears more pie in the sky by the day.

Unearthing our planet’s valuable deposits is responsible for 60% of atmospheric heating, 40% of air pollution impacts, and upwards of 80% of both global water stress and land biodiversity loss, the report says.

A hike in resource extraction was already expected, given most NDC routes to net zero involve wholesale transitions to electric vehicles, but the sheer scale of growth during and beyond that period are excessive and point to ulterior motives.

The extraction of precious rare Earth minerals like cobalt and lithium will reportedly increase sixfold within the next decade to account for EV production alone.

Former EU commissioner at the UN, Janez Potocnik, states that the detail of the report coming to fruition would almost certainly ignite extreme weather events and climate disasters of increasing severity.

‘Higher figures mean higher impacts,’ Potocnik says. ‘In essence, there are no more safe spaces on Earth. We are already out of our safe operating space and if these trends continue, things will get worse. Extreme weather events will simply become much more frequent and that will have ever more serious financial and human costs.’

Offering up alternatives to recklessly growing the sector in lieu of achieving short-term targets, the report proposes action to reduce the overall demand for these materials. ‘Prevailing focus on cleaning the supply side needs to be complemented with demand-side measures,’ Potocnik explained.

A stronger emphasis on remote working, greener local services, and low-carbon transport options such as bikes, trains, and tubes are suggested as a means of meeting people’s needs without relying solely on industrial innovation.

It asserts that large parts of Europe’s housing crisis, for instance, could be resolved through better utilising barren space and filling the frankly gross number of empty homes.

Changes focused around ‘systemic resource efficiency’ may help to increase equity and reduce emissions by some 80% by 2060. Material and energy needs, meanwhile, could be slashed by 40% and construction by 30%, according to the report.

With these findings set to go public in an official capacity next month, it’s hoped that the UN will form new policies to alleviate the burden being placed on supply chains to carry our renewable revolution. The EU Green Deal meeting this summer will be of great interest.

Failing a drastic change of tact, the report’s alarming figures might just come to fruition. I think we need a refresher course on the definition of sustainability.

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