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DENR backs UN call for low carbon, resource-efficient economy

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Thursday backed a United Nations report calling for resource efficiency among Asia-Pacific countries.

The agency noted the United Nations Environment Program report can be a guide for governments and policymakers in the transition to low-carbon and resource-efficient economy.

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“These information are relevant for the Philippines and other governments across the region in order to make the most informed decisions that best serve our people,” said environment secretary Ramon Paje.

The Unep report noted that around $ 2.5 trillion in annual sustainable development investments is needed to shift to a more sustainable pathway in terms of resource efficiency in the Asia-Pacific.

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While there is a potential for “green” growth, the UNEP warned that a wasteful use of resources in Asia Pacific countries is undermining the ability to sustain economic growth in the future.

The UNEP also called for a “new industrial revolution” to promote equitable human well-being with lower resource use.

The report said the region cannot depend on declining natural resource costs for future growth.

“This knowledge of current patterns of resource use can further help us make decisions about our policy priorities, development, and implementation towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy,” Paje said.

Citing the report, UN undersecretary general and UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said the Asia Pacific “will be crucial to the success of the sustainable development, financing and climate change agendas being finalized this year.”

The region is known as the most diverse region in the world and home to 60 percent of the world’s population.

While the region’s remarkable economic progress has lifted millions out of poverty, “climate change continues to grow as a threat and wasteful resource use has seen the material footprint of the region triple between 1990 and 2010,” Steiner said.

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The report stated that the region’s use of biomass, metals, industrial and construction minerals and fossil fuels, is growing at 5 percent annually, faster than the rest of the world.

The use of materials in the region increased yearly from 5.7 billion to 37 billion tons between 1970 and 2010, compared to global consumption of 70 billion tons in 2010.

Steiner said a significant scale-up in investments towards a green economy, a sound regulatory framework and including sustainability in national development planning processes, can ensure the region’s impressive growth continues while reducing future carbon emissions.

The report noted that per capita material use increased fourfold from 2.3 tons to 9.3 tons over this period after the 1990s.

It took an estimated three kilograms of materials to produce one dollar of gross domestic product in the region in 2010, compared to one kilograms for the rest of the world.

On the other hand, developing Asia-Pacific countries needed five kilograms of materials to produce a dollar of GDP in 2010.

“This low efficiency points to the great potential to improve efficiency by which materials are used in the region,” the report noted.

The report also noted that the material footprint of the region grew threefold between 1990 and 2010 with a maximum increase of 400 percent in the construction sector. On the other hand, agriculture saw the smallest increase of 1.8 times in its material footprint.

The region’s demand for electricity, gas and transport fuel, mainly met from coal and petroleum, increased more than four times over the past 40 years due to rapid urbanization in China.

However, per capita water use is declining in the region, with developing countries using 544 cubic meters annually and 6,893 cubic meters in industrialized countries. Agriculture is the main user, accounting for 80 per cent of water consumption.

The report said the relative slow growth in the region’s share of global water use from 51 per cent in 1970 to 55 per cent in 2010 indicates an improved water use efficiency.

Despite a fourfold increase in greenhouse gas emissions between 1970 and 2010, there was a dramatic decrease in carbon intensity in Asia-Pacific developing countries, from 10 kilograms CO2-eq per dollar to less than 3 kg CO2-eq per dollar.

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TAGS: DENR, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environment, UN report, UNEP report, United Nations Environment Program report
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