The Materials Book

187 How the Circular Economy Can Lead to Carbon Neutrality Serge Salat Over the next thirty years, the global urban population is projected to increase by 57 percent to 2.4 billion. Material consumption is predicted to grow even faster. Quantitative analysis of the global resource requirements of urbanization shows that without a new approach, material consumption by the world’s cities will grow from forty billion tons in 2010 to about ninety billion tons by 2050, an increase of 125 percent. The high demand for raw materials far exceeds what the planet can sustainably provide. Resources must become a central policy concern—China, for example, used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the United States used during the twentieth century. Producing its energy largely from fossil fuels, China has already become the largest carbon emitter in the world; energy- and material-intensive urban development is regarded as the most significant driver of emissions. The energy required for global infrastructure growth will play a critical role in accelerating climate change. As highlighted by the 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “The anticipated growth in urban population will require a massive build-up of urban infrastructure, which is a key driver of emissions across multiple sectors. […] Currently, average per capita CO 2 emissions embodied in the infrastructure of industrialized countries is five times larger than those in developing countries.” 1 International research has shown that the globalization of Western infrastructure using current technologies would correspond to about