In the 20-year gap between the two Rio summits (1992 – 2012), the earth’s population has grown from 5.4 billion to more than 7 billion – a leap of almost 30 %. This has had a knock-on effect on global use of natural resources, in tandem with increasing per capita consumption levels.
- Although greenhouse gas emissions have fallen within Europe, globally they have jumped by approximately a third over 20 years, and the number of tonnes of natural resources extracted has also leapt by a third in the same period.
- These figures mask huge inequalities – per capita resource use and emissions are many times higher in some countries compared to others.
- Many critics of the current economic model point out that it is premised on ever-increasing exploitation of natural resources, while materials and the planet’s capacity to absorb waste are limited.
On Sunday 17 June, the European Environment Agency presented a new film, “Planet RE:think”, which tells the story of unsustainable resource use and also includes positive examples of ‘green economy’ policies and business models.