China Ecological Footprint Report 2010

Posted on 15 November 2010

Addressing carbon emissions and urban development will be crucial if China is to continue to improve well-being without costing the planet, says a new report launched today. The “China Ecological Footprint Report 2010”, jointly published by WWF and China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), explores the country’s challenges and opportunities in an increasingly resource-constrained world.

Over the past three decades China’s per capita income has grown by more than 50 times as a result of economic development. However, rapid industrialization, urban development and intensive agriculture have increased the pressure on nature. A world consuming resources and producing wastes at Chinese levels for 2007 would need the equivalent of 1.2 planets to support its activities, compared to 0.8 of a planet at 2003 Chinese consumption levels. The global average in 2007 was 1.5 planets, meaning that it would take 1.5 years for the Earth to regenerate the resources used and to absorb the CO2 emitted that year.

Carbon emissions and individual wealth have become the major factors influencing China’s Ecological Footprint.

In 2008, carbon footprint associated with energy demand for buildings, transport, consumption of goods and provision of public services account for more than half of China’s Ecological Footprint in 29 of China’s 31 provinces. In the municipalities of Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin, and in the industrialized province of Shangdong this portion exceeds 65 percent.

There are clear differences between rural and urban areas, primarily due to income gaps and consequent variations in consumption and energy utilization.

The analysis suggests that for provinces where per capita GDP exceeds RMB 30,000 (approximately US$ 4,500), Ecological Footprint increases in parallel. In China high-income segments of population are overwhelmingly located in cities, and Ecological Footprint of cities is 1.4 to 2.5 times greater than rural areas.

In 2008 Beijing had the greatest footprint per person and Yunnan has the smallest. Between 1985 and 2008 Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangdong and Chongqing have seen the greatest overall growth in their footprint per person.