The UK must cut its environmental footprint by 75% before the end of the decade to help nature recover, according to the WWF.
Published 2 hours ago
The charity’s report Thriving Within Our Planetary Means says the UK has a disproportionately high impact on climate and nature.
It compared per capita footprint in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen and phosphorous use, and materials consumption, with what is needed to remain within planetary limits.
This is the point at which irreversible changes could be triggered, with serious consequences for humans.
The report concluded that the UK’s per capita greenhouse gas footprint is more than six times this limit and its per capita biomass consumption footprint is nearly double.
To cut this destructive footprint by 75%, WWF said the UK should:
• Ensure UK agricultural and forestry supply chains cause zero deforestation and ecosystem conversion by 2023
• Reduce material consumption – that is the raw materials needed to satisfy demand for goods and commodities – by 40% by 2030
• Reduce biomass consumption (consumption of agricultural products, animal products, forestry products) by 50% by 2030
• Ensure 100% of marine resources are from sustainable sources by 2030
• Ensure all bodies of water in the UK have good ecological status and good chemical status by 2027
The report also noted that nearly half of the UK’s carbon footprint comes from imports, meaning it happens beyond the country’s borders.
Such cuts should not hurt the economy, however, as they can be achieved by reducing waste, increasing recycling and efficiency, and using production systems that work with nature, the report said.
Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: “The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, yet our environmental footprint extends far beyond these shores.
“The things we buy and the foods we eat are fuelling nature loss, including the destruction of precious habitats like the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado – and current legislation does not go far enough to prevent this.
“If the UK is to stand as a global green leader at the COP26 climate summit, we must pull our weight in addressing the planetary crisis and ensure all commitments meet the scale of the challenge.
“Adding a legally binding target to the Environment Bill to slash our environmental footprint at home and overseas by 2030 is an essential step, and this report provides a roadmap to deliver on that target once it’s in place.”