Gas-rich Qatar has highest ecological footprint on the planet – WWF

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doha aerial view
An aerial view of Doha, capital of the State of Qatar. Photo - Royal Dutch Shell Media Library

A new research published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said Qatar has the worst ecological footprint per person in the world.

The wildlife and environmental organisation also said that an ever-growing demand for resources by a growing population is putting tremendous pressures on our planet’s biodiversity and is threatening our future security, health and well-being.

According to The Living Planet Report 2012, the leading biennial survey of the Earth’s health, the gas-rich Gulf state was putting the biggest demand on the earth’s ecological systems, despite having a limited ‘biocapacity’, or ability to regenerate resources.

The tiny desert nation’s ecological footprint totalled 11.64 global hectares (gha), the area of land required to feed, exploit materials, produce energy, and get rid of the waste produced as a result of the activities.

Kuwait and the UAE closely followed Qatar which had footprints of 9.68 gha and 8.4 gha respectively. The average footprint in the UK is almost 5.4 gha per person.

“The ecological footprint is driven by consumer habits and the efficiency with which goods and services can be provided,” said the report.

“An individual’s ecological footprint varies significantly depending on a number of factors, including their country of residence… If all of humanity lived like an Indonesian, for example, only two-thirds of the world’s biocapacity would be used.”

The top 10 countries with the biggest Ecological Footprint per person are: Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, United States of America, Belgium, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and Ireland.

The report said that declines in biodiversity since 1970 have been most rapid in the lower income countries – demonstrating how the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidising the lifestyles of wealthier countries.

Decreasing biocapacity (a region’s capacity to regenerate resources) will require a country to import essential resources from foreign ecosystems – potentially to the long-term detriment of the latter, it added.

Researchers questioned the strain human population is putting on natural resources, terming it unsustainable.

“We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal,” said Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.

“We are using 50% more resources that the earth can sustainably produce and unless we change course, that number will grow fast – by 2030, even two planets will not be enough.”

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