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The National Footprint Accounts 2019 – carbon footprint dropped 1.4 % between 2014 and 2016

The International organization Global Footprint Network published its annual The National Footprint Accounts 2019 (NFAs), upgrading the data and interactive maps on the ecological impact for over 200 countries and regions in the world using U.N. data from 1961 to 2016. Traditionally, the methodology of NFAs is based on the comparison of two indicators in relation to each other: ecological footprint (human demand on goods and services from ecological systems) and biocapacity (nature’s capacity to meet that demand). These indicators are measured in global hectares, revealing a country’s ecological impact. If a country’s footprint is smaller than its biocapacity, it has an ecological reserve; otherwise it has an ecological deficit.

The researches recorded a slight 1.4% decrease in the carbon footprint between 2014 and 2016. This led to a 0.5 % drop in the total Ecological Footprint over the same period. Unfortunately, this positive trend was short-lived as, according to more recent U.N. data throughout 2017 and 2018, a significant increase in carbon emissions was registered.

In 2016, an average global Ecological Footprint per person was 2.8 global hectares (gha), compared to 1.6 gha per person of available biocapacity. In comparison, the ecological footprint in 2013 was approximately at the same level, but 1.71 gha of biocapacity was available. “Our data show that we use as much from nature as if we lived on 1.75 Earths“, says Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, founder and President of Global Footprint Network.

In comparison to the previous edition, not much has changed in the top 10 countries with the highest total ecological footprint. Although China has decreased its total carbon footprint by 2% due to its reduced use of coal, in 2016 the country became the most “harmful” again (5,200,000,000 gha), traditionally followed by the USA (2,610,000,000), India (1,550,000,000) and the Russian Federation (743,000,000). Other countries down the list are Brazil (584,000,000), Japan (574,000,000), Indonesia (441,000,000), Germany (397,000,000) and Mexico (332,000,000). The one and only country that managed to escape the top 10 worst performing countries is the United Kingdom, which dropped its carbon footprint by about 11% between 2014 and 2016 moving from 10th to 12th place. In general, Europe’s carbon Footprint decreased by 3.7 percent between 2014 and 2016. The place of the UK was occupied by the Republic of Korea with a total eco footprint of 305,000,000 gha. If we look at the ecological footprint per capita, as in the previous year the “leaders” with the highest ecological footprint are Qatar (14.4) and Luxembourg (12.9). At the other end of the scale are small (by area) countries with the lowest total ecological footprint Montserrat (23,100), the Cook Islands (88,000), Dominica (174,000), Grenada (315,000), and Sao Tome and Principe (344,000).

According to the new report, as in the previous edition, the top countries regarding the highest total biocapacity are Brazil, China, the USA, and Russia. India overtook Canada taking 5th place. Montserrat, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Cook Islands and Barbados are countries with the least total biocapacity.

NFAs found that the country with the highest ecological deficit is Singapore (9,950%) far ahead of Bermuda (5,260%) and Reunion (2,380%), which are in 2nd and 3rd positions, respectively. The top 3 countries with ecological reserve are French Guiana (3,980%), Suriname (2,750%) and Guyana (1,900%).

Traditional calculation of the so called earth overshoot day, on which consumption of nature resources for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate them, were surprising, with the earliest data ever; it fell on July 29 in 2019 (August 1 in 2018). It means that humanity's need for renewable resources is 75% higher than the planet is able to meet.