UK must cut ecological footprint by 75% before 2030 to hit global targets, WWF says

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Drax Power Station at sunset, Selby North Yorkshire England UK
The UK needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Stock: Drax Power Station/Getty)

The UK must cut its environmental footprint by 75% before the year 2030 to give nature a chance to recover, according to the WWF environmental charity.

The charity's new report Thriving Within Our Planetary Means: Reducing The UK's Production And Consumption Footprint By 2030 says the country has a disproportionately high impact on the planet.

On average, people in wealthy countries have 13 times the environmental impact of people in developing countries, the report found.

The report found that products consumed in the UK contribute to environmental damage overseas such as deforestation and overfishing.

For example, the per-capita CO2 footprint of people in the UK would need to be reduced by 85% to hit global ecological limits, the report says.

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The report also points out that the UK's per capita biomass consumption footprint is nearly double global ecological limits.

The WWF researchers recommend measures including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 39% and switching all fishing to sustainable fish.

"Reducing the UK’s footprint will require urgent, sustained and transformative action to change how we produce and consume materials," they write.

"Targets for action should address the impacts of both production and consumption, including those impacts that occur overseas and are embedded in imports to the UK.

"This is critical, since nearly half of the UK’s carbon footprint occurs overseas, and the overseas land footprint required to meet our demand for just seven key commodities amounts to the equivalent of 88% of UK’s total land area.

"There’s a risk that focusing only on domestic actions would simply ‘offshore’ our impacts to other countries."

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The researchers believe the UK can make significant differences to its overconsumption without derailing its economy.

"A significant reduction in our footprint does not mean the UK’s economy must shrink, or that the wellbeing of UK citizens would be affected," they say.

The WWF suggests measures which could cut Britain's environmental footprint (WWF)
The WWF suggests measures to cut the UK's environmental footprint. (WWF)

"With few exceptions, the proposed targets are about doing things differently: reducing waste, increasing recycling, increasing efficiency, and shifting towards production systems that work with nature.

"An illustrative example of this is provided by actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"A major aspect of cutting the UK’s emissions involves decarbonising electricity production, which presents significant economic opportunities in the development of low-carbon technologies."

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