Reducing China's Ecological Footprint

To move towards a more sustainable future, WWF is working with China to lighten its environmental footprint on the planet.

China for a Global Shift
© Chris Martin Bahr / WWF

A land of stunning contrasts

From glaciers to coral reefs, from deserts to tropical rainforests, China has one of the world's most diverse environments.
Within this varied geography, one finds the country's national treasure, the giant panda as well as many other species, including tigers, golden monkeys, Asian elephants, black-necked cranes and Yangtze river dolphins.

But China's rapid development has increased pollution and degradation of natural habitats, which is having deleterious impacts on the country's environment.

According to the Report on China's Ecological Footprint – commissioned by WWF and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development – China uses 15% of the world's total biological capacity, demanding two times what the country's ecosystems can sustainably supply to support its current population and level of economic activity.

Treading lightly

WWF is working with China to lighten its ecological footprint.

To this end, we are:

  • Suggesting to establish metrics to measure the achievement of sustainable development
  • Advocating reform of the financial system as a vehicle for driving sustainability in the economy
  • Promoting more widespread use of renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar, biogas and energy efficient wood stoves
  • Promoting efficiency in all uses of natural resources
  • Assuring the long-term survival of  threatened species and their habitats.

giant pandas 
Young panda approaching through the bushes

What is Ecological Footprint?

The Ecological Footprint shows the extent and type of human demand being
placed on the planet's ecosystems. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and water that is needed to supply resources and absorb wastes.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
Shanghai is one of the cities participating in WWF's Low Carbon City Initiative
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
In a bid to develop greener cities in China, Shanghai and Baoding have teamed up with WWF on a Low Carbon City Initiative.

The aim of the initiative is to explore ways to de-link rapid economic growth and energy consumption in an effort to reduce the adverse environmental impacts of urban development. The focus is on improving energy efficiency in buildings, expanding the use of renewable energy, and manufacturing of energy efficient products.

The Low Carbon City Initiative is an example where government, business and NGOs, like WWF, are coming together to demonstrate clear actions for climate change solutions.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
A Chinese woman inserts a low-energy light bulb in her home in Shanghai.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK
A wind generator used to provide electricity for the WWF-funded Yangchai Lake Management Station, Lake Hong, China.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

WWF Goals

    • By 2015, the ecological footprint concept is integrated into China's national 5-year plans.
    • By 2020, China's budgetary expenditure on energy saving and resource efficiency has increased by 150% compared to 2008.

Facts & Figures

    • Home to an estimated 17,300 species of flowering plants and 667 endemic vertebrates, China is one of the most biodiversity-rich countries in the world.
    • There are about 2,395 nature reserves in China, accounting for 15.2% of the country's total land area.
    • Some of the world's more famous and threatened species are found in China, including pandas, tigers, lynx, snow leopards and Tibetan gazelles.
    • With over 1.3 people, China is the most populous nation on Earth.