Wanted: A new planet by 2030

Flagship WWF Living Planet report warns that within two decades the global economy will be consuming the resources of two Earths each year

The ever-increasing demand for natural resources means that by 2030 we will
need two Earths to meet the needs of the global economy, according to the latest
version of WWF’s flagship biodiversity study published today.

The biennial
Planet Report
is based on the campaign group’s
Planet Index
, which measures the current state of biodiversity, and its
assessment, which analyses humankind’s impact on the natural

The latest version of the report highlights that humanity’s demand for
natural resources has doubled since 1966 and reveals that the global economy is
consuming resources equivalent to 1.5 planets to support itself.

It warns that a continuation of current trends on a global scale would mean
that in 20 years’ time we will need the productive capacity of two planets to
meet our annual demands.

The report represents one of the most extensive audits of biodiversity
carried out anywhere in the world and is based on assessments of almost 8,000
populations of over 3,500 different species.

It contains a host of facts and figures highlighting the unsustainable nature
of current consumption patterns, including confirmation that populations of
freshwater tropical species have fallen by nearly 70 per cent, while
biodiversity levels across low-income countries have fallen by almost 60 per
cent in less than 40 years.

The report reveals a continuing contrast between
for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) countries and developing
countries, with higher income nations boasting an average per capita
environmental footprint that is around five times larger than that found in
poorer nations.

It also confirms that while large emerging economies such as Brazil, India
and China still have significantly lower per capita impacts than rich nations
they are on track to overtake the OECD bloc if they follow a similar
developmental path.

The UK was ranked 31st in the ecological footprint rankings, but this still
equates to a rate of consumption that requires 2.75 planets to sustain itself.

The report warned that OECD nations were increasingly depleting natural
resources and biodiversity in poorer countries in order to meet its demand for
resources, a scenario that could result in major economic security risks as
scarce resources and degraded natural systems lead to inflation in the price of
food and raw materials.

In the foreword to the report, James Leape, director general of
WWF International, wrote: "The implications
are clear. Rich nations must find ways to live much more lightly on the Earth,
to sharply reduce their footprint, in particular their reliance on fossil fuels.
Put plainly, we have to devise ways of getting as much, and more, from much

The report will further fuel calls for renewed political action to tackle
ecosystem damage ahead of the UN’s annual biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan
next week.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of
WWF-UK, said that world leaders had to
deliver an economic system that "assigns genuine value to the benefits we get
from nature: biodiversity, the natural systems which provide goods and services
like water, and ultimately our own well-being".

Nussbaum challenged the UK government to take the lead in preventing demand
for resource from overwhelming the environmental agenda.

"In the UK, all of us – government, businesses and individuals – need
fundamentally to rethink our relationship with the planet,” he said. "The new
coalition government can take a lead by putting green investment and real
sustainability at the heart of its decision making."

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