Industry must lead to reduce London’s ecological footprint

London's ecological footprint is more than twice the size of the UK, and if everyone lived as Londoners do, it would take over three planets to support them, a shock report has revealed.

Launched this week by London Remade, the disturbing statistics shown in Making London a sustainable city: Reducing London’s ecological footprint show the huge drain being put on our natural environment by people living in the capital.

The report outlines some practical suggestions of ways to help businesses to operate in a more environmentally friendly way, whilst working towards making London a sustainable city, and chief executive of London Remade, Daniel Silverstone urged both government and the business industry to take notice and lead the country by their example.

“London’s consumption clearly outstrips its share of natural resources and this points to major problems and constraints for its future,” he warned. “In the long term, we cannot continue to have a capital city that has an ecological footprint of more than twice the size of Great Britain – no longer can we simply do nothing.”

An ecological footprint is increasingly used as the standard way to measure the ecological impact of a country, city or organisation, and represents in global hectares the amount of productive land or sea needed to produce the resources consumed by society and absorb the waste generated.

Analysis showed that London’s own footprint comprised 35.7% resource use, 23.6% food consumption (including transport), 19.5% direct energy consumption, 13.9% personal transport and 7.2% other consumption.

“We’re not asking the people of London to grow their own carrots or return to subsistence farming,” Mr Silverstone added. “But government and business need to lead the way by suggesting practical ways for organisations, industry and individuals to help improve the sustainability of London.”

Fortunately, spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Richard Dodd told edie that business is more than willing to play its part in reducing the UK’s environmental impact, and that action was already being taken to do so.

“Businesses are currently leading the way on reducing carbon emissions, having now been set the toughest targets in Europe, and we were quick to sign up to the emissions trading scheme (ETS),” he commented. “We are also actively trying to minimise our waste and reduce our energy use, which are good both for the environment and for competitiveness.”

“However, there is always more that can be done and it is not just up to businesses and government to tackle this problem – individuals must also do their bit to help make a difference.”

The four key issues pinpointed by the report that London needed to tackle included:

  • Use of resources, especially short-life good such as paper
  • A new approach to food and diet, with more promotion of products from local sources
  • Improving energy efficiency, especially in buildings
  • Improving public transport and general facilities so that people travelled less, and could more easily travel on public transport, on foot or by bicycle

    “If government and businesses acknowledge the need for change and lead by example, we can start moving forward towards a more sustainable London,” Mr Silverstone concluded.

    “Our capital has to be able to meet the needs of its inhabitants and compete as a world city, without running out of resources.”

    By Jane Kettle

    © Faversham House Ltd 2023 edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.

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