The European Commissioner for the Environment has said that economic and social stability will be influenced by rising commodity prices.
Speaking to a meeting of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, Janez Potočnik warned that demand for food, feed and fibre would rise by 70 per cent by 2050, but already 60 per cent of the world’s major ecosystems that help produce these resources have already been degraded or are used unsustainably.
He added: “The ‘business as usual’ scenario tells us that we would need three times more resources by 2050. So ‘business as usual’ is not an option. Basically, we have to grow using less resources or we will not grow.
“We have already seen this in rising commodity prices. The decline in resource prices of the last century (in real terms) – with breaks only for wars and the oil crisis – has been wiped out in the first decade of this century. The era of cheap and abundant resources is over. That is the reality which will influence our economic and social stability in the coming decades.
“It is already clear to most medium-sized and larger European companies. 87 per cent of EU companies expect rising resource prices in the next five years. Material costs make up more than 40 per cent of total costs in manufacturing industries, compared to less than 20 per cent for labour.”
He added that the Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe programme that was launched in September will require national government to integrate its ambitions into their programmes. As part of this, landfilling of waste will be outlawed by 2020 and the EU will seek to provide the conditions to generate markets for secondary materials.