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14 October 2010

Wanted: A new planet by 2030

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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 Living Planet Report is based on the campaign group's Living Planet Index, which measures the current state of biodiversity, and its ecological footprint assessment, which analyses humankind's impact on the natural world.

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 Organisation 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.


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