Two out of three countries ‘ecologically overshot’

July 24, 2014 • Daily Email Recap


Two out of three countries are already consuming more individually than each can produce sustainably from its own resources, i.e. relying only on renewables, as we eventually must. This position can only worsen as population and consumption rise.

For World Population Day 2014 on 11 July Population Matters has released its updated Overshoot Index. Based on Blue Planet Prize-winning Global Footprint Network data, the Index relates each country’s biocapacity – the ability to provide renewable ecological services like water collection, food production and waste absorption – to the country’s population size and current per capita resource consumption. The Index shows that 96 out of the 146 countries listed, including all but seven or eight of the OECD nations, are already in overshoot, i.e. living beyond their ecological means. The Index in addition gives the biophysically sustainable population for each country, given current productivity and consumption levels. The UK ranks as the 26th most overshot nation, with a sustainable population of 20.6 million people. England alone would be much higher up on the list.

“This puts the scale of the challenge facing the Sustainable Development Goals process into stark relief”, said Population Matters Chair Roger Martin. “Countries in overshoot are unsustainable from their own resources in the long-term unless they reduce their populations, or their consumption per head, or some combination of both. An increase in either worsens a country’s long-term position.

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