Denmark’s demand on the earth’s resources is one of the greatest in the world according to a a new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The biennial Living Planet Report examined the impact of human activity on the planet and found that Denmark’s ecological footprint per person – measured in terms of the amount of space demanded per inhabitant for the country’s global activities – is the fourth largest in the world.
This places Denmark behind only the gulf oil states of Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, but ahead of industrial superpowers and heavy polluters like the USA, Canada and China.
A country’s ecological footprint is made up of both the quantity of goods and services individuals consume and the amount of waste they produce, as well as the decisions of businesses and governments and their environmental demands and impacts.
The report did not specify to what extent Denmark’s high per capita ecological footprint was a result of either high levels of individual consumerism, or whether it was due to the activities of its industry and high profile companies such as the energy and shipping giant Maersk.
And the accuracy of the figures can also be questioned, as the WWF concedes that it used figures from 2008 to assess Denmark’s ecological footprint.
The report does illustrate, however, that on the whole developed countries use a far greater share of the world’s resources than developing countries. The report concludes that we would need four earths to satisfy our demands if everyone lived like the average American.
"We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal," Jim Leape, WWF International's director general, told AFP news bureau. "We are using 50 percent more resources that the Earth can sustainably produce and unless we change course, that number will grow fast – by 2030, even two planets will not be enough."
The Living Planet Report was released to coincide with next month's United Nations Rio+ 20 Summit, where world leaders will discuss how to ensure a sustainable future.
“Rio+20 needs to elevate the urgency of action on the scale needed,” David Nussbaum, CEO of WWF International, writes on their website. “Now is our chance to reflect whether the future we're creating for our planet is the legacy we want to leave for future generations.”
Read more about the WWF report here.