The UK must slash its global environmental footprint by 75% by the end of the decade to help put nature on the path to recovery, according to a new WWF report released yesterday (05 July).
The report – Thriving Within Our Planetary Means – states that the UK’s disproportionately high impact on climate and nature must be met with a nationally ambitious target.
It assesses the UK’s per capita footprint across six ‘footprint areas’ critical to the functioning of the planet, such as greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorous use and materials consumption.
Data for the UK footprint is then compared with what is required to stay within planetary limits – the level of impact which, if crossed, could trigger abrupt or irreversible changes which could have serious consequences for humankind.
The analysis estimates that the UK’s per capita greenhouse gas footprint is over six times the planetary limit, and its per capita biomass consumption footprint is nearly double the planetary limit.
Targets to cut UK footprint
It presents 10 key drivers of environmental impact where significant reform will be essential to deliver the 75% reduction.
Specific targets include ensuring UK supply chains of agricultural and forest commodities are responsible for zero deforestation and conversion of ecosystems by 2023.
The footprint of the UK’s material consumption – the raw materials needed to satisfy demand for all goods and commodities – must fall by 40% by 2030.
The footprint of the UK’s biomass consumption – the consumption of agricultural products, animal products and forestry products – must be cut 50% by 2030 and 100% of marine resources –animals and plants extracted from the marine environment – must be from sustainable sources by 2030.
Finally, all bodies of water in the UK must achieve good ecological status and good chemical status by 2027.
UK’s overseas footprint
The report highlights that nearly half of the UK’s carbon footprint occurs beyond its borders and is embedded in imports.
As a result, the report outlines key ways for the UK to reduce the impact of production and consumption both at home and overseas.