Environmental indicators, modelling and outlooks

Socio-economic Developments Chapter of the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction



Without new policies, by 2050, the Earth’s population is expected to increase from 7 billion to over 9 billion and the world economy is projected to nearly quadruple, with growing demand for energy and natural resources. Average GDP growth rates are projected to slow in China and India, while Africa could see the world’s highest growth rates between 2030 and 2050. OECD countries are expected have over a quarter of their population aged over 65 years in 2050, compared to 15% today. China and India are also likely to see significant population ageing, while more youthful populations in other parts of the world, especially Africa, are expected to grow rapidly. These demographic shifts and higher living standards imply evolving lifestyles and consumption patterns, all of which will have significant consequences for the environment. Nearly 70% of the world population is projected to be urban residents by 2050, magnifying challenges such as air pollution, transport congestion, and waste management.

A world economy four times larger than today is projected to use 80% more energy in 2050. Without more effective policies, the share of fossil energy in the global energy mix will still remain at about 85%. The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa (the “BRIICS”) are projected to become major energy users. To feed a growing population with changing dietary preferences, agricultural land is projected to expand globally in the next decade, although at a diminishing rate.

Projections for real gross domestic products:

Note: Valued using constant 2010 purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates.

Source: OECD Environmental Outlook Baseline; output from ENV-Linkages.


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In the Press

  • International media coverage (English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish)
 Related report
  • An Economic Projection to 2050: The OECD "ENV-Linkages" Model Baseline (OECD Environment Working Paper): This report describes economic baseline projections to 2050 for several world regions. It describes how socio-economic drivers are used to create a consistent projection of economic activity for the coming decades, applying the general framework of "conditional convergence". This economic baseline is created using the ENV-Linkages model version 3. This baseline is used for modelling analysis with the ENVLinkages model as carried out for the publication OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction. Specific attention is given in this paper to projections for the energy system as part of the economy, to allow detailed links between economic activity and environmental pressures, including emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Related event

  • Meeting of OECD Environment Ministers, 29-30 March 2012, Paris  

More information:
OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction


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