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December 2015

Letter from China

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Coinciding with WWF China’s Living Planet Report-China 2015 report, Global Footprint Network launched a new website, or, last month to support the growing interest in Ecological Footprinting in the world’s most populous nation.

The WWF China report shows that in less than two generations time, China’s per-person demand on nature has more than doubled, while the average population size of China’s terrestrial vertebrates declined by half from 1970 to 2010.

The report coincidentally came on the heels of China’s statistical agency quietly publishing new data indicating the nation has been consuming up to 17% more coal a year than previously reported. This has significantly altered our calculation of the global Carbon Footprint and, consequently, of Earth Overshoot Day—the day when humanity has spent Earth’s budget for the entire year. Find out by how many days the date was moved up in the calendar.

We applaud the Chinese decision to improve coal data reporting, especially in the context of the ecological civilization vision laid out by the government. “With the ecological civilization becoming national strategy, China’s economy has entered an era where the balance between ecological protection and economic development is a priority,” said LI Ganjie, Secretary General of China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) at the launch of WWF’s Living Planet Report — China 2015 report last month. “How China deals with its growing environmental challenges in its way towards industrialization and urbanization is now a most essential question,” he added.

Ecological Footprint in the News

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Ecological Footprint data received an eye-opening visual treatment in a recent article in Geographical Magazine, by Benjamin Hennig, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Using Ecological Footprint data in the latest Happy Planet Index, Hennig resized a map of the world to reflect each nation’s Ecological Footprint per capita and global population distribution. He then added a traffic light color scheme to reflect the number of planets that would be needed if the world as a whole lived the lifestyle of each country.