Sunday, January 17, 1999 Published at 05:30 GMT
Environmental change threatens economy
A sustainable future depends on ending poverty, says Worldwatch
By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby
A respected environmental research group based in Washington DC says the natural world faces unprecedented threats to its stability.
It calls for the world to shift to a more sustainable model of development which could eventually create some of the new century's largest investment opportunities.
In the same period, the use of energy and raw materials grew by more than ten times.
The report singles out some of the most urgent problems the institute has identified:
Dr Lester Brown, president of the Worldwatch Institute, said: "We are entering a new century with an economy that cannot take us where we want to go.
"Satisfying the projected needs of eight billion or more people with the economy we now have is simply not possible.
"The western industrial model - the fossil fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy that so dramatically raised living standards in this century - is in trouble."
Dr Brown urged a change to an environmentally sustainable economy, based on renewable energy and renewable products.
And unless rich people tackled poverty, there could be no sustainable future.
"Meeting the needs of the more than one billion people now in poverty is essential to making the transition to an environmentally sustainable world economy," he stressed.
Co-author Christopher Flavin said: "Just as the 19th century was marked by the abolition of slavery and the 20th by a new international principle of human rights, the 21st century will require a new ethic of sustainability".
Urging the adoption of fiscal measures to speed the change to sustainability, the report advocates using taxes to discourage pollution and wasteful energy use.