The extraction and production of materials contribute to 23% of global greenhouse gases and 90% of global biodiversity loss according to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Climate mitigation efforts typically focus on enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the transition to renewable energy, however, according to the report emissions from the production of materials play a big role in global greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the report, emissions from the production of materials as a share of global greenhouse gases have increased from 15% in 1995 to 23% in 2015.
The extraction of natural resources also accounts for more than 90% of global biodiversity loss and water stress.
The authors of the report outline that material efficiency can be a key driver in reducing these emissions.
Material efficiency means using fewer materials to provide the same level of well-being.
It is measured by the amount of service obtained per unit of material used. Materials include biomass, cement, fossil fuels, metals, non-metallic minerals, plastics and wood.
According to the report, material efficiency strategies could reduce emissions from the material cycle of passenger cars in 2050 by up to 70%.
Material efficiency can be advanced not only by broadening the scope of targets in these contributions but also by increasing the mitigation ambition.
UNEP transport expert Rob de Jong said: ‘Material efficiency strategies are a great opportunity to reshape our production and consumption systems in ways that respect planetary boundaries and support societal well-being.’
‘Material efficiency strategies will play an essential role, for example, by providing low-carbon mobility services. Zero-emission transport systems are part of the solution, but it’s critical to also consider the resources and materials used to produce those systems.
‘The good news is that material efficiency strategies for cars are based on proven technologies available today.’
In related news, many of the world’s largest mining companies have been accused of selectively reporting their progress on achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals, according to a report published by the Responsible Mining Index (RMI).
Photo Credit – Pixabay