The Global Footprint Network compiles the ecological footprint of over 200 countries every year, and it’s just launched a for exploring the data. It maps ecological debtor and creditor countries, and it’s easy to run comparisons.
To demonstrate, let’s have a look at the ecological footprints of Britain and Madagascar, the country I live in and the one where I grew up. (Also, I sponsored Madagascar in the network’s ‘Adopt a country’ project, so I’m keen to use those particular numbers.) Here’s a per-capita comparison:
There’s a striking difference in size. Out of the six categories in the footprint, Madagascar scores a little higher on grazing land. In every other category the average British person has a far larger impact. The inequality in carbon footprint is particularly significant: 3 global hectares per person in Britain, and just 0.08 per person in Madagascar.
What would a sustainable share be? If we divide the earth’s biocapacity fairly, a ‘one planet’ sustainable footprint is around 1.7 global hectares per person.
With that in mind, Madagascar has room to grow – which is vital in a country where most people live on less than £1 a day. Britain, on the other hand, ought to be looking at reducing footprints to about a third of their current size.
Want to see how your own country comes in?