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Scottish Cities are Wrecking the Planet

WWF Scotland welcomed today's (9/1/03) publication of the Executives Cities Review, with its assessment of the damaging consumption patterns of Scotland's five big cities. The report reveals that Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Inverness consume more than twice their fair share of the Earth's resources, as measured by their ecological footprint (1). If all the people in the world consumed like Scotland's big urban populations, we would need between two and three planets to support ourselves!

"Our greedy habits are too much for the world's natural resources to bear," said Head of Policy for WWF Scotland Dr Richard Dixon, "We consume too much imported food when we could be eating local produce, throw away far more than we recycle and choose to drive rather than walk, cycle or take public transport."

Late last year the London City Limits Review (2) calculated that each Londoner needs 6.63 global hectares to provide the energy, food and raw material they need to survive (the global average is 2.2 gha, the equivalent of three football pitches).

In the reports 'league table' of Scottish cities Glasgow scored lowest with 5.37 global hectares per person, followed by Dundee with 5.51, Edinburgh with 5.60 and finally Aberdeen on 5.87. Inverness was not included in the league due to a lack of reliable data. The report looked at the levels of waste, imports and exports, as well as consumption of raw materials such as energy to assess the global footprint of the main cities.

"Scotland's burgeoning urban centers are not far behind London, which would needs a land mass the size of Spain to support it sustainably. This report shows that despite growing evidence of climate change and pollution of our air and rivers, Scotland is still burning up a disproportionate share of the world's finite resources," commented Dr Dixon

"All credit to the Executive for calculating our cities' ecological footprint. Now it needs to take these new figures seriously and come up with a national strategy to reduce our global impact. I urge politicians and local authorities to carry out an urgent, more detailed review of our consumption patterns and set clear targets and dates for reducing our global footprint," added Dr Dixon.

WWF Scotland is campaigning to encourage Scots to reduce their individual footprint through a series of simple actions:

Take public transport, walk or cycle whenever possible.

Buy local produce rather than imported food. A staggering 81% of all food consumed in London in 2000 came from outside the UK.

Reduce the amount of waste we produce including recycling more paper, glass, cans and organic material.

Conserve energy by better insulating the home, switching off lights and using energy efficient domestic appliances.

Editor's notes

(1) Every community, be it Edinburgh or Aberfeldy, has an impact on the earth. We all rely on the products and services of nature, both to supply us with raw materials and absorb our waste.

The big question is whether this load is more than nature can bear. Looking at areas such as transport, food and water consumption and waste the Ecological Footprint analysis comes up with the equivalent hectares of land the individual or community is using up to support itself. For example if all the biologically productive land and sea on the planet is divided by the number of people inhabiting it, the result is a statistical average of 2.2 ha available for each person

The Footprint analysis shows clearly the degree of overshoot between supply (land available for each country's use) and demand (land actually used). According to the WWF Living Planet report we already need the equivalent of 1.2 planets to support ourselves at current rates of consumption.

The WWF Living Planet report analyses the impact on wildlife of global consumption patterns: http://www.panda.org/news_facts/publications/general/livingplanet/index.cfm

(2) The London City Limits review was published in September 2002 and can be downloaded from www.citylimitslondon.com

(3) A Government sponsored project is underway to calculate a detailed Ecological Footprint for the whole of Scotland. WWF Scotland sit on the advisory group for this project, which is expected to report at the end of this year.

You can calculate your own footprint on the planet on the New Scientist's website: http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/environment/quiz2.jsp

For further information or graphics, please contact Jamie Grant

This article was kindly provided by ScoWaste a mailing list run by SRMS for RAGS and FoE Scotland.



































Scottish Executive link

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