March 20, 2012

Environmental Outlook to 2050: Act Now or Face Costly Consequences

The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction presents the latest projections of socio-economic trends over the next four decades.

It also explains their implications for four key areas of concern: climate change, biodiversity, water and the health impacts of environmental pollution.

Despite the recent recession, according to the OECD, the global economy is projected to nearly quadruple to 2050. Rising living standards will be accompanied by ever growing demands for energy, food and natural resources. And more pollution.

The costs of inaction could be colossal, both in economic and human terms. Without new policies, the OECD projects that:

  • World energy demand in 2050 will be 80% higher, with most of the growth to come from emerging economies and still 85% reliant on fossil fuel-based energy.
  • Urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide by 2050, ahead of dirty water and lack of sanitation.
  • On land, global biodiversity is projected to decline by a further 10%, with significant losses in Asia, Europe and Southern Africa.
  • Global water demand will increase by some 55%, due to growing demand from manufacturing (+400%), thermal power plants (+140%) and domestic use (+130%).
According to the report, these projections highlight the urgent need for new thinking. Failing that, the erosion of our environmental capital could increase the risk of irreversible changes that could jeopardise two centuries of rising living standards, states the OECD.
More information about the Environmental Outlook to 2050 >>

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