The United States and the European Union make up the bulk of the global resource extraction they cannot afford
The highest-income countries in the 1970s and 2017s, mainly driven by the United States and the European Union, accounted for 74% of the world’s highest-earning resources during the 1970s-2017s.
This has been demonstrated in an international study led by Jason Hickel, a researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Autonomous de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), which determines the extent to which each nation has a national responsibility for environmental degradation. Exceeded the fair share of limits on the sustainable use of resources.
Not only in terms of CO2 emissions and climate change, but also on land use changes, biodiversity loss, chemical pollution and biochemical flows, human impacts on Earth’s systemic processes cross many planetary frontiers. This ecological decline is largely caused by the extraction of global resources, which has increased rapidly over the past half century and is now dramatically exceeding safe and stable levels.
The global economy is estimated to consume more than 90 billion tons of materials per year, which is higher than what industrial ecologists consider a fixed limit.
This new study proposes a new method for determining national responsibility for environmental degradation. “Not all countries are equally responsible for this trend; Some countries use more personal resources than others through material extraction, production, consumption and waste, ”explains ICTA-UAB researcher Jason Hickle.
Between 1970 and 2017, nearly 2.5 trillion tons of goods were cut worldwide, with high- and middle-income countries consuming the bulk of these resources. Of these, 1.1 trillion tons were above the fixed corridor.
The study shows that high-income countries (16% of the world’s population) accounted for 74% of global over-resource utilization during the period 1970-2017, mainly driven by the United States (27%) and high-income countries. European Union (25%). Spain ranks 11th in the list of 15 countries that exceed the standard planetary limit of raw material use. Behind countries like Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Italy, Spain is responsible for 2% more.
China, a high-middle-income country, ranks second globally and accounts for 15% of global surplus consumption. The rest of the Global South (i.e. low- and middle-income countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia) is just 8%. Similarly, 58 countries in the South, representing 3.6 billion people and including India, are in stable positions.
Research, published in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health Domestic extraction, as well as products involved in the global trade flow of resources such as fossil fuels, wood, metals, minerals and biomaterials, were analyzed using data from the UN International Resources Group and additional calculations.
National responsibility has changed over time. While the US surplus continues to grow on an absolute basis, its share of global surpluses has been steadily declining over the past two decades, a trend similar to that of Europe and other high-income countries. This change is mainly due to the increased use of resources in China made of construction materials. China’s dominance began in 2001, but grew rapidly in the following years.
“The results show that rich countries are taking a heavy toll on global environmental degradation, and therefore have environmental debt to the rest of the world,” explains Jason Hickle, emphasizing that “these countries must be at the forefront of making drastic cuts.” Utilizing resources to avoid further degradation will require post-change growth and growth reduction approaches.
The 15 largest absolute excesses per capita annual average surplus from 1970-2017. at https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(22)00044-4
National Responsibility for Environmental Disruption: Fair-Stock Appraisal for Resource Utilization, 1970-2017
Professor Jason Hickle, PhD, Daniel W O’Neill, PhD, Andrew L Fanning, PhD, Huzaifa Zoomkawala, BS
The Lancet Planetary Health – Volume 6, Issue 4, e342-e349, April 01, 2022
Henrik Cortes *, Translation and editing.
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