October 13, 2010 09:00 ET

WWF: Canadians' Footprints Among World's Heaviest

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 13, 2010) - Canadians are among the worst offenders contributing to a continued decline in global biodiversity and an increase in the global ecological footprint, according to WWF's 2010 Living Planet Report, released today. 

The report, a leading statement of the planet's health, found that people are spending beyond the Earth's ecological means and dipping far into the Earth's natural capital. The ecological deficit caused by consumption of energy, water and materials at rates 50 per cent beyond supply will have serious repercussions for wildlife and ecosystems, as well as for future generations of people, all of whom depend on nature's ecological services. The excessive size of this ecological footprint correlates with a decline in biodiversity, reflecting the poor health of the planet's ecosystems. At the current rate, global consumption requires the resources of one and a half Earths per year.

The Living Planet Report ranked Canada's ecological footprint as seventh largest per capita among the 130 nations measured. Approximately half of this footprint is the result of carbon emissions from transportation, heating and electricity production from fossil fuels, which contribute significantly to climate change. This is more than twice the average global citizen's consumption rate and would require approximately four Earths to sustain if every human were to live as Canadians do.

Canada also ranked high in water footprint of production, another important measure of our impact on the planet, coming in 16th among the countries scored. Water footprint measures the volume of freshwater used to produce goods, measured over the full supply chain, and support household and industry use.

Fortunately, the information and tools we need to change this trend are readily available.

"I would like to give a healthier planet to my children," said Gerald Butts, President and CEO of WWF-Canada, "and I believe most Canadians feel the same way. We have all we need to transform our lifestyles, our businesses and our policies to protect and preserve the Earth – now we must make it happen before there are irreversible losses."

In order to reduce Canada's ecological footprint, WWF-Canada is calling on:

-- The Canadian Government, to work aggressively to reduce Canada's carbon footprint by implementing measures that would consistently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as increasing energy efficiency standards and supporting renewable energy programs

-- Canadian industry, to become more efficient in how resources are used – especially carbon and water – generating savings for the bottom line and lower impact on the planet

-- Individual Canadians, to take responsibility for our own consumption and reduce our ecological footprint through actions such as WWF-Canada's Living Planet Community at www.wwf.ca

"There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.

The Living Planet Report, produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, uses the global Living Planet Index as a measure of the health of almost 8,000 populations of more than 2,500 species. The global Index shows a decrease of 30 per cent of biodiversity "stock" since 1970, with the tropics hardest hit showing a 60 per cent decline in less than 40 years.

The ecological footprint shows that our global demand on natural resources has doubled since 1966, especially in highly developed nations like Canada, which consumes far more than its fair share of the world's bounty. 

The report outlines solutions needed to ensure the Earth can sustain a global population projected to pass nine billion in 2050, and points to choices in diet and energy consumption as critical to reducing footprint, as well as improved efforts to value and invest in our natural capital.

"This is a challenge we all need to address," said Butts. "Ultimately, we have only one planet to live on, and we must find a way to make the most of what we have without causing further damage to the only life support system we have – planet Earth. We all can and should make better choices in what we consume and how we produce and use energy."

The full 2010 Living Planet Report is available for download at wwf.ca/lpr and panda.org/lpr. Further resources, including images, B-Roll and graphics from the report are available upon request.

About WWF

WWF is one of the world's most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/media for latest news and media resources.

About ZSL

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in over 50 countries worldwide. www.zsl.org

About GFN

The Global Footprint Network promotes a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a tool that makes sustainability measurable. Together with its partners, the network coordinates research, develops methodological standards, and provides decision makers with robust resource accounts to help the human economy operate within the Earth's ecological limits. www.footprintnetwork.org

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