Londoners leave huge footprints

London's Ecological Footprint is more than twice the size of Great Britain, which is a huge drain on the environment. Daniel Silverstone, Chief Executive of London Remade explains how if everyone lived as Londoners do, it would require three planet earths to support them.

Londoners are being urged to take action to reduce their impact on the environment though the report 'Making London a Sustainable City - Reducing London's Ecological Footprint', produced by London Remade. The unique report suggests practical ways for organisations to reduce their Ecological Footprint and improve the sustainability of London.

An Ecological Footprint is increasingly used as the standard way to measure the ecological impact of a country, city or organisation. It represents the areas, in global hectares (gha), of productive land or sea needed to produce the resource consumed by society and absorb the waste generated. The measurement has the great advantage that the impact of different things can be measured on the same scale - the gha - allowing comparisons to be made and priorities set.

To reduce the ecological impact and continue to thrive cites must become more sustainable. London is a leading world city but suffers from classic environmental problems including air pollution, traffic congestion and waste management. Humanity as a whole is exceeding the capacity of the planet to support its activities. Londoners alone require an average of 5.8 gha of land but with only 1.9 gha of land available per person the environment is being stretched.

London must tread more lightly

London's consumption outstrips the supply of natural resources and points to major problems and constraints to future development. When analysed, London's Ecological Footprint comprises 35.7% resource use (goods and services), 23.6% food consumption (including its transport), 19.5% direct energy consumption, 13.9% personal transport and 7.2% other consumption. In many areas significant progress is being made by companies and the public sector, however London must continue to increase sustainable development across all areas of concern.

The report demonstrates that London's Ecological Footprint is so large because we are:

  • Consuming too much, most of all paper;
  • Eating foods which demand too much of the environment to produce them; and
  • Travelling too much by car and plane.

    The 'Agenda for Change', in the report, provides practical suggestions across the four key areas of resource management, food, transport and energy and the built environment, for organisations to take to reduce their Ecological Footprint. Actions include:

    Resource management

  • Adopting the Mayor's Green Procurement Code - to increase procurement of goods with recycled content.

  • Enhance recycling 'bring' sites, including those at supermarkets.

  • Use hire and lease schemes that result in more efficient use of equipment.

  • Offer incentives to households and businesses to produce less waste.

    Food

  • Work with retailers to increase the supply of food from more sustainable sources.

  • Encourage food service providers to integrate ingredients from sustainable sources.

  • Address the issue of food wastage.

    Energy and the Built Environment

  • Use building energy management systems to ensure that energy consumption is monitored and managed.

  • Encourage tenants to press for more energy efficient systems.

  • Increase the use of renewable energy sources.

    Transport

  • Encourage more working from home, reducing the need to travel.

  • Encourage greater use of public transport.

  • Increase the use of new technologies with low or zero CO2 emissions.

  • Take the opportunity presented by reduced car usage to create more attractive pedestrian environments and facilities for cycling.

    We need organisations to take note of these actions and lead by example. London's consumption clearly outstrips its allocation of natural resources and will lead to major problems and constraints in the future.

    Looking ahead

    In launching our report, we have aimed to provide government and businesses with some practical advice so that London can work towards becoming a more sustainable city. In the long term, the Capital simply must reduce its ecological footprint.

    We can no longer adopt a 'do nothing' approach. The launch of the Government's Sustainable Development Strategy and recent changes to the Operating and Financial Review (OFR) reporting requirements prove sustainability issues are moving up the business and political agenda.

    If government and businesses acknowledge the need for change and lead by example, then we can start moving forward towards a more sustainable London. Our capital has to be able to meet the needs of its inhabitants and compete as a world city, now and in the future.

    For more information on London Ecological Footprint please visit www.londonfootprint.com or contact London Remade: 020 7061 6350


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    | CO2 | Cycling | food | transport

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