Non-Green St Albans heading for big carbon debt

PUBLISHED: 18:24 11 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

ST ALBANS will have consumed its fair share of the earth s resources for the entire year by this weekend, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK. Their calculations show it will become the second city in the country so far this year to go into ecol

ST ALBANS will have consumed its fair share of the earth's resources for the entire year by this weekend, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) UK.

Their calculations show it will become the second city in the country so far this year to go into ecological debt and residents apparently need more than three-and-a-half planets to sustain the amount of resources they use.

The WWF said that current lifestyles in the UK are depleting the earth's natural resources quicker than it can replace them and driving rapid changes in the world including climate change, deforestation and the near extinction of many species.

Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF-UK, said: "Even the most green city resident can, on average, only reduce their footprint by one-third - moving from a UK average of a three-planet lifestyle to a two-planet lifestyle. This clearly indicates that the one-planet challenge is not just about consumers - government and business must also play their part to avoid the most devastating impacts on the environment."

Likely implications of continuing this unsustainable debt in resources are extreme weather events such as heat-waves and flooding, increased food prices caused by flood-damaged crops and higher home energy costs.

Native species including hedgehogs are also under threat due to warmer winters and reduced availability of their food supply and many trees will be affected by the changing climate and competition between different species.

The Ecological Footprint of British City Residents report calculated the average ecological footprint of residents in 61 cities and Winchester fared the worst.

An individual's ecological footprint relates to the land and sea area required to provide food, resources and energy, as well as absorb waste and pollution. The main factors affecting this are housing, food, consumer goods, public and private services and their transport.

People can calculate their own carbon footprint at http://footprint.wwf.org.uk and devise a plan to reduce it.

WWF's 10 top tips to reduce your ecological footprint:

1. Reduce car journeys and use public transport, cycle and walk.

2. Grow your own vegetables, only buy the food you need and think about how you can use up leftover food.

3. Instead of flying, take holidays in the UK or take the train to Europe.

4. If you need a car, get a small fuel-efficient one.

5. Instead of spending money on new things, buy secondhand or borrow.

6. Try to make your home more energy-efficient through insulation and double-glazing.

7. Turn the thermostat down.

8. Reduce the amount of meat you eat.

9. Eat as much locally-produced organic food as possible.

10. Recycle everything you can.

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