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UNEP Releases Report on Changing Environment – From Rio to Rio+20

1 November 2011: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report, titled “Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20,” which provides comprehensive statistical data illustrating environmental changes to the planet since the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or Rio Earth Summit), and ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The report, which was produced as part of UNEP's Global Environmental Outlook-5 (GEO-5) series, tracks economic, environmental, social, geopolitical and technological trends through graphs and satellite imagery. The full GEO-5 report is expected to be launched in May 2012 in the run up to the UNCSD. It highlights that biodiversity has declined by 12% at the global level and by 30% in the tropics.

The report also includes sections on climate change and energy. On climate change, the report notes that: 80% of carbon dioxide emissions come from only 19 countries; the amount of carbon dioxide per US$1 GDP has dropped by 23% since 1992, indicating some decoupling of economic growth from resource use; nearly all mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner; and sea levels have been rising at an average rate of about 2.5 mm per year since 1992.

On energy, the report notes that: the contribution of renewable energy (including biomass) to the global energy supply was estimated at 16% in 2010; solar and wind energy account for only 0.3% of the total global energy; there has been a 540% increase in investments in sustainable energy between 2004 and 2010; and growth in biodiesel as a renewable energy source has increased by 300,000%. On resource efficiency, the report warns that without concerted and rapid action to curb and decouple resource depletion from economic growth, human activities may destroy the very environment that supports economies and sustains life. [UNEP Press Release, 28 October 2011] [UNEP Press Release, 1 November 2011] [Publication: Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20]