Surging consumption of natural resources - 92 billion tonnes in 2017 - accounts for half of the world's planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 percent of the world's biodiversity loss, the Global Resources Outlook 2019 found.
If resource use doubles by 2060, as predicted based on current trends, a further 10 percent of forests and 20 percent of habitats, such as grasslands, will disappear, it 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," said Joyce Msyua, acting head of UN Environment."Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop," said Mysua of the agency formerly known as the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).
Experts said they were surprised by the heavy contribution resource extraction was making to climate change and warned that carbon emissions could increase by about 40 percent by 2060 if the business-as-usual scenario continued. Without more responsible, efficient natural resource management, they said, achieving global targets on climate change like the Paris Agreement and or Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on protecting biodiversity would be difficult.
Experts called for increased regulation on resource extraction and more investment to develop alternatives.
"We need to develop innovative solutions on how to make the same products with less natural resources or through replacing them with different materials," said Bruno Oberle, one of the report's authors. "We should also look at making natural resources more expensive by imposing a tax as this will provide pressure to use them more efficiently."