Ecological Footprint updates 2014 (152 countries)

Ecological Footprint updates 2014 (152 countries)

Recently ‘Living Planet Report 2014’ was released by WWF. In addition to the evaluation of the earth’s ecological condition the report of 180 pages presents a new ranking of 152 countries’ Ecological Footprint per capita (pdf p 157). See the ranking in ‘graphics’. The Ecological Footprint by country is calculated by ‘Global Footprint Network’ (in collaborations with governments in order to improve data and methodology¹).

The standardized unit used in the Ecological Footprint is a global hectare (gha) expressing the world’s average biological productive capacity (biocapacity) of land and water, in a given year. Actual areas are converted into global hectares using equivalence factors, which seek to account for the differences. The Ecological Footprint includes only aspects of resource consumption and production of waste for which the earth has regenerative capacity and where data exists. For example, toxic releases are not included. In other words, the footprint solely focuses on the competition for the available biocapacity. Two examples of how this works: 1) A ten-hectare per person Ecological Footprint means that an average person in that country uses all of the services produced in a year by ten hectares of world-average productive land (this land does not need to be within the borders), and 2) Resources used for producing a motorcycle or a bicycle that is manufactured in the United States, but sold and used in Denmark, will contribute to the Ecological Footprint in Denmark (not in the United States).

The indicators in the Ecological Footprint are divided into six categories:

  • Built-up land: biologically productive area covered by human infrastructure, including transportation, housing and industrial structures.
  • Fishing grounds: the area of marine and inland waters required/available to harvest fish and other seafood.
  • Forest products: the area of forest required to support the harvest of fuel wood, pulp and timber products.
  • Grazing products: the land used to raise livestock for meat, dairy, hide and wool products.
  • Cropland: the area that produces crops for food and fibers for human consumption, feed for livestock, oil crops and rubber.
  • Carbon footprint: the area of forest required to sequester anthropogenic CO2 Emissions² that are not absorbed by the oceans.

The percentage of each category for the 152 countries is available in the report. On a global scale the carbon footprint accounts for 53% of the Ecological Footprint. Since the available data and methodology have changed over time, comparisons with previous rankings should be done with great caution. However, estimates over the last 50 years, suggest that:

  1. The global population has increased by 123%.
  2. The Ecological Footprint per capita has increased by 4%.
  3. The planet’s biocapacity has increased by 21%.

Around 1970 the Ecological Footprint per capita exceeded the biocapacity per capita (report, pdf p. 59). Today, 1.5 earths would be required to meet the human demands on nature. See these three videos about footprint: ‘Accounting for a Small Planet, 2009 (2:57)’, ‘UAE Ecological Footprint Animation, 2010 (2:16)’ and ‘Interview with William Rees, the Ecological Footprint Method Creator, 2013 (43:20)‘.

In ClimatePositions the national Ecological Footprints are divided into two: a) carbon³, and b) the five other categories (= the indicator termed “Ecological Footprint excluding carbon emissions”). Read more about the indicators ‘here’. Since the national data-values of the six categories produced by Global Footprint Network and WWF are publicly inaccessible unless paying a fee, the data-source of ClimatePositions is the published and free ‘graphics’. The table below shows the relative Ecological Footprint excluding carbon emissions, of 155 countries, in the five Living Planet Reports between 2006 and 2014. All years the average country is set at 10 (this is not the same as the world average per person). Denmark has topped the below list since 2010. Note that the data year is a few years prior to the Living Planet Report release year, and that much of the raw data is based on self-reporting by individual countries, which contribute to implausible footprint estimates or abrupt year-to-year changes.

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Report release year: 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014
(average country) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)
. . .
Denmark 22 30 30 36 36
Uruguay 14 35 29 28 31
Belgium 17 17 26 24 28
Mongolia 18 15 27 27 23
Paraguay 13 20 18 16 23
Netherlands 13 11 20 20 22
Sweden 29 28 20 17 22
Estonia 25 24 29 17 20
Australia 27 39 23 25 20
Norway 32 36 26 20 20
Mauritius 10 12 17 20 19
Canada 25 25 19 17 19
Lithuania 20 15 19 17 18
Portugal 19 12 15 13 17
France 17 16 16 17 17
Qatar ÷data ÷data 15 17 16
Latvia 18 20 26 15 16
Brazil 14 16 15 15 16
Ireland 16 15 16 15 15
Greece 15 15 16 15 15
United States 28 19 15 15 15
Austria 17 13 14 14 15
Italy 14 14 15 13 15
Spain 21 15 17 15 14
Belarus 13 13 12 13 14
Germany 14 13 15 13 14
Singapore ÷data 7 10 12 14
Niger 9 10 14 ÷data ÷data
Mauritania 8 13 15 16 14
Czech Republic 16 13 16 15 14
Gabon 12 9 9 11 14
Oman ÷data 9 11 15 14
Bolivia 8 12 14 14 13
Poland 12 13 13 12 13
Chile 14 16 14 16 13
United Arab Emir. 24 11 16 15 13
Argentina 13 13 11 12 13
Cyprus ÷data ÷data ÷data ÷data 13
United Kingdom 17 12 13 13 13
Myanmar (Burma) 7 7 11 12 12
Finland 30 24 12 13 12
Chad 8 11 11 12 12
Slovenia 11 12 12 12 11
Israel 14 9 11 10 11
Malaysia 10 9 11 12 11
Mali 7 10 12 11 11
Switzerland 13 9 11 11 11
Lebanon 9 7 9 10 11
Slovakia 10 12 11 15 11
Papua New Guinea 12 11 10 12 11
Botswana 8 14 11 12 11
Guinea-Bissau 5 6 6 6 11
New Zealand 36 37 16 17 11
Croatia 10 10 12 14 11
Kuwait 8 8 11 13 11
Saudi Arabia 10 9 10 10 11
Bahrain ÷data ÷data ÷data ÷data 10
Bulgaria 10 9 15 12 10
Venezuela 9 10 9 11 10
Guinea 7 9 10 10 10
Costa Rica 11 10 11 10 10
Ghana 8 8 9 10 10
Namibia 6 20 10 10 ÷data
Russia 13 10 11 12 10
Libya 7 7 7 9 10
South Korea 14 8 11 11 10
Bosnia and Herzeg. 9 10 10 10 9
Burkina Faso 8 13 8 9 9
Swaziland 7 5 6 7 9
Mexico 12 10 10 10 9
Romania 11 12 9 10 9
El Salvador 8 7 9 9 9
Colombia 7 9 7 9 9
Gambia 10 8 20 8 9
Turkey 10 9 9 9 9
Japan 13 8 10 8 9
Serbia 9 8 7 8 9
Hungary 12 13 8 12 9
Turkmenistan 9 10 9 10 9
Sudan 8 14 10 10 9
Macedonia 8 9 11 9 9
Thailand 6 8 9 10 9
Uganda 9 9 9 9 9
Guatemala 8 7 8 8 9
Laos 7 7 7 8 8
Trinidad and T. 9 7 7 ÷data 8
Ukraine 10 8 7 9 8
Jordan 8 7 8 9 8
Central African Rep. 7 11 8 8 8
Somalia 3 9 8 9 8
Senegal 9 8 6 8 8
Honduras 8 9 9 8 8
Albania 7 7 7 7 8
Panama 9 15 12 13 8
Tunisia 7 8 8 7 8
Tanzania 5 7 7 7 8
Egypt 8 7 7 7 8
Cameroon 6 8 6 6 8
Ecuador 8 11 8 11 7
Nigeria 8 8 8 8 7
Nicaragua 8 11 7 8 7
Algeria 6 7 6 6 7
Armenia 6 5 7 7 7
Ethiopia 6 9 7 7 7
Vietnam 5 6 6 6 7
Morocco 6 6 6 6 7
Iran 7 7 6 6 7
Bhutan ÷data 7 ÷data ÷data ÷data
Peru 8 9 8 11 7
Madagascar 5 7 11 7 7
Sierra Leone 6 5 6 7 7
China 7 7 6 6 7
Liberia 6 6 7 7 7
Moldova 6 6 4 8 7
Kazakhstan 11 9 9 7 7
Benin 6 5 6 7 7
Sri Lanka 6 4 6 6 7
Zimbabwe 6 ÷data 6 6 6
Indonesia 7 5 5 6 6
Jamaica 11 6 7 7 6
South Africa 8 7 6 6 6
Cambodia 5 5 6 6 6
Kyrgyzstan 9 5 5 6 6
Azerbaijan 5 7 6 6 6
Syria 7 7 5 5 6
Côte d’Ivoire 5 5 6 ÷data 6
Togo 7 5 5 6 6
Burundi 6 5 6 5 6
Angola 7 5 5 5 6
Philippines 7 6 6 6 6
Kenya 5 7 6 5 6
Rwanda 6 5 6 4 6
Cuba 7 7 7 7 5
Georgia 6 6 8 6 5
Dominican Republic 9 6 5 5 5
Uzbekistan 5 4 10 5 5
Mozambique 5 5 5 4 5
Zambia 4 4 5 5 5
Congo (Brazzaville) 4 3 6 6 5
Malawi 5 3 4 5 5
Tajikistan 3 3 5 4 5
Dem. Rep. Congo 5 4 5 5 5
Nepal 5 5 4 4 4
Yemen 4 4 4 3 4
North Korea 5 4 4 4 4
India 5 4 4 4 4
Afghanistan 1 3 4 3 4
Bangladesh 3 3 3 3 4
Eritrea 5 6 5 4 3
Haiti 4 3 4 3 3
Pakistan 3 3 3 3 3
Iraq 1 3 3 3 3
Timor-Leste ÷data ÷data 2 3 3
Occup. Palest. Ter. ÷data ÷data 2 2 2

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¹Standards are established by the Global Footprint Network Standards Committee, composed of scientists and practitioners from around the world. The methodological development of the national Ecological Footprints is overseen by a formal review committee.

²This includes CO2 Emissions from fossil fuels, flaring of gas, cement production and tropical forest fires.

³The data-source of national CO2 Emissions per capita for ClimatePositions is ‘EIA‘.

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Sources and links:
Global Footprint Network: ‘Footprint Basics – and Introduction‘, and ‘glossary‘. 
WWF: ‘Ecological Footprint and Living Planet Report 2014‘ and ‘previous reports‘.
Global Footprint Network: History and methodology of Ecological Footprint: ‘Ecological Footprint Atlas 2010’ (pdf 128 pages)‘.
General information about Ecological Footprint: ‘Wikipedia.
Top image by Claus Andersen, 2014 (motorcycle and bicycle are from Mozambique).

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