Our world 2025
Environment

The environmental challenge is multi-faceted and immense; it demands no less than a combination of technical ingenuity, wise policy and the concerted action envisioned in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

ENVIRONMENT

The global environment is under increasing pressure from a range of factors, including population growth, deforestation, climate change, agriculture, air and water pollution, resource use, and poor waste management.

Taken together, these negative forces are having increasingly alarming effects on ecosystems, wildlife habitats, biodiversity, and the quality of life in many communities across the world.

ENVIRONMENT: ECOSYSTEMS

ENVIRONMENT: ECOSYSTEMS

CONTINUED DEFORESTATION

The Earth’s forest area is being reduced by about 5 million hectares each year – an area larger than Switzerland – due mainly to expansion of cropland and urban areas. Deforestation is destroying wildlife habitats and decreasing the carbon stocks in the world’s forests by about a half a gigatonne annually.

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AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

Demand for food is escalating rapidly, driven by more population, more wealth, and the resource intensity of food supply. Current trends suggest agricultural output will increase 60% by weight by 2050 relative to 2005.


Source: OECD/FAO (2015)

WATER RESOURCE STRESS

Global water demand is likely to increase by 55% between 2000 and 2050, with the biggest demand increases coming from manufacturing, electricity, and domestic use. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and fully two thirds of the world population could be facing water stress conditions.

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BIODIVERSITY AND SPECIES ABUNDANCE

The three main components of biodiversity – genes, species, and ecosystems – are all showing signs of decline. The main causes: habitat damage; over-exploitation; pollution; invasive alien species; and climate change.

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Source: WWF (2014)

ENVIRONMENT: CLIMATE CHANGE

ENVIRONMENT: CLIMATE CHANGE

By 2025 it will be widely acknowledged that we are on a trajectory to 3°C warming or more.

LACK OF CONCERTED ACTION

The combined atmospheric concentration of the Kyoto GHG will be above 480 ppm carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), and still rising at a steady pace of about 3 ppm per year.

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Source: PwC (2014)

CARBON PRICING GAINING GROUND

There will be no global carbon price in 2025, but national and regional carbon pricing will gain scale, and businesses will increasingly incorporate carbon price effects in strategic planning and investment decisions.

This is underscored by several Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted at COP 21 in Paris, indicating that carbon pricing will be an element of their mitigation strategies.

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Source: World Bank (2015)

RENEWABLES AND PRICE PARITY

The share of renewables (particularly solar) in the power mix is rising rapidly, while prices decrease. Commercial-scale grid parity for storage plus solar PV is possible as early as 2020. By 2025, onshore wind and solar PV will be the cheapest forms of electricity generation in many countries.

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RISK OF STRANDED ASSETS

Long-term investors are shifting investments toward low carbon and “climate safe” activities. This, plus regulatory mechanisms, accelerate a flight of capital away from coal-fired power and marginally economic oil resources.

Share of fossil fuel value at risk for government and private investors 2015-2035


Source: The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (2014)

ENVIRONMENT: POLLUTION

ENVIRONMENT: POLLUTION

POLLUTION OF LAKES AND RIVERS:
In the next decade, the detrimental effects of excessive nutrient release to water bodies will become more evident. By 2050, the number of lakes with hypoxia may increase by 20% globally, mainly in Asia, Africa, and Brazil.


Source: OECD (2012)

AIR POLLUTION

Regional trends in air pollution differ. NOx, SO2, and O3 emissions are declining in OECD countries, for instance, but are stable or increasing in other parts of the world. Although black carbon emissions are generally decreasing globally, annual premature deaths linked to particulate matter and ground level ozone among urban populations may double by 2050.

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PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS (POPs)

POPs are compounds absorbed by microorganisms and plants that then accumulate in wildlife and are associated with a range of adverse human health effects. By 2025, there will have been significant progress towards eliminating the use of POPs as a consequence of the broad adoption of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

“The sustainable management of chemicals and waste must be achieved… to protect our health, and that of our children … whatever our gender, nationality or income.” – Rolph Payet

OCEAN WASTE

In 2025, ocean waste and the associated mix of chemicals and non-biodegradable components will be widely acknowledged as a devastating and increasing threat to the marine environment. Plastics, which represents as much as 80% of the total marine debris, is continuing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands seabirds and marine mammals every year.

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