Aussies ‘living beyond Earth’s means’
AUSTRALIANS are among the top contributors to the Earth’s environmental decline, due mostly to our carbon emissions, a new report says.
Conservation group, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has released its 2012 Living Planet Report, which estimates humans are using 50 per cent more resources than the planet can provide.
Australians have the seventh largest environmental impact.
If everyone lived like the average Australian, it would take 3.76 planets to support the world’s population, the report says.
Australia comes seventh behind Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, the United States and Belgium – one spot worse than in the last report in 2010.
WWF Australia ecologist Martin Taylor says it’s a top-10 ranking the nation should be ashamed of.
“If the rest of the world lived the way we did, we’d need four planets,” says Dr Taylor.
“We’ve only got one, I’m afraid, so something has to give at some point.”
Carbon emissions are the top contributor to Australia’s footprint, which the report measures in “global hectares” – a measure of the productive land and water area required to support our consumption and pollution levels.
Australians require 6.68 global hectares per person, Dr Taylor says, which is very high even for a developed nation.
He has a simple message for the federal Government on this: Stay the course on pricing carbon.
“All it’s doing is trying to level the playing field so renewables can get a head start,” says Dr Taylor.
“It’s still not level, we’ve still got enormous fossil fuel subsidies.
“Let’s get rid of the subsidies because that’s what’s kept the playing field so imbalanced for so long.”
Dr Taylor says Australians don’t have to sacrifice quality of life in order to perform better – we just have to find new solutions to the energy problem.
“There are countries on this planet that have half the footprint that Australia does but have the same quality of life,” he says.
“It’s almost inexcusable that we’re not taking advantage of our talents of our energy and putting them to innovate the way we use resources in Australia.”