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Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060

Economic Drivers and Environmental Consequences

image of Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060

This report presents global projections of materials use and their environmental consequences, providing a quantitative outlook to 2060 at the global, sectoral and regional levels for 61 different materials (biomass resources, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals). It explains the economic drivers determining the decoupling of economic growth and materials use, and assesses how the projected shifts in sectoral and regional economic activity influence the use of different materials. The projections include both primary and secondary materials, which provides a deeper understanding of what drives the synergies and trade-offs between extraction and recycling.

The report projects a doubling of global primary materials use between today and 2060. Population and converging per capita income growth drive the growth in materials use. However, structural change, especially in non-OECD countries, and technology improvements partially dampen that growth. Metals and non-metallic minerals are projected to grow more rapidly than other types of materials.

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Projecting the economic baseline scenario

This chapter outlines the main economic mechanisms that drive the economic projections in the baseline scenario. It begins by presenting the socioeconomic trends at the macroeconomic level. These trends include sociodemographic assumptions (population and labour force participation projections) and macroeconomic assumptions (capital accumulation and technical progress). Next, the changes in demand patterns that affect the sectoral composition of the economy are discussed, with an emphasis on the projected shift of demand towards services in the coming decades. The third section discusses the evolution of production processes, which shows changes in the composition of the inputs to production as a result of technical progress and the transformation of input relative prices. Taken together, changes in demand patterns and production processes explain the structural change of the economy over time. The final section outlines the uncertainty surrounding the socioeconomic drivers.

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