Report on Impacts of Consumption and Production Released

2 June 2010: The International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), has released a report titled "Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production - Priority Products and Materials."

The report provides science-based priorities for world environmental efforts, and ranks products, materials, and economic and lifestyle activities according to their environmental and resource impacts. Some of the key findings of the report include that: agriculture and food consumption are among the most important drivers of environmental pressures, especially habitat change, climate change, water use and toxic emissions; and the use of fossil energy carriers for heating, transportation, metal refining and the production of manufactured goods is of comparable importance, causing the depletion of fossil energy resources, climate change, and a wide range of emissions-related impacts.

The report states that dramatically reforming, re-thinking and redesigning the energy and agriculture sectors could generate significant environmental, social and economic returns. The Panel notes that some efficiency gains are possible in terms of reducing the impacts of agriculture, but qualifies that these will be offset by population growth. According to the report, decoupling the environmental impacts of these two broad sectors from economic growth can start at the level of the household. It calls for a significant shift in diets away from animal-based proteins towards more vegetable-based foods to dramatically reduce pressures on the environment. [UNEP Press Release] [Report Website]