By Elizabeth Broomhall
Gulf states putting biggest demand on the earth’s resources, study reveals
Qatar has the highest ecological footprint per person in the world, according to new research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The Living Planet Report 2012 said the gas-rich Gulf state was putting the biggest demand on the earth’s ecological systems, despite having a limited ‘biocapacity’, or ability to regenerate resources.
Its ecological footprint totalled 11.64 gha, representing the amount of biologically productive land and sea area needed to supply the resources its population consumes, and absorb its waste.
Qatar was closely followed by Kuwait and the UAE, which had footprints of 9.68 gha and 8.4 gha respectively.
“The ecological footprint is driven by consumer habits and the efficiency with which goods and services can be provided,” said the report.
“An individual’s ecological footprint varies significantly depending on a number of factors, including their country of residence... If all of humanity lived like an Indonesian, for example, only two-thirds of the world’s biocapacity would be used.”
According to the report, higher income countries have an ecological footprint on average five times that of low-income countries, but declines in biodiversity have been most rapid in the latter.
In addition to over-consumption, fast human population growth and urbanisation are thought to be critical driving forces behind recent environmental pressure.
Other countries with high ecological footprints include Denmark, the US, Belgium, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Researchers say our demand on natural resources has become unsustainable.
“We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal,” said Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.
“We are using 50 percent more resources that the earth can sustainably produce and unless we change course, that number will grow fast – by 2030, even two planets will not be enough.”
Qatar should follow USGBC - LEED or Estidma - UAE for their development and Construction projects. They have enough money and they can reduce their carbon footprint building Zer-Carbon facilities and sustainable buildings for the next generaion.
Lots of initiatives are already in progress.
- Most of the new government funded developments are expected to be LEED certified as per governement directive.
- All LNG and other gas refining plants have been forced to cut NOX and other emissions to extremely low levels.
I believe Qatar is leading the way in a lot of these initiatives in the hydrocarbon sector in the GCC. But, still lot to learn and improve.
Green buildings are a step forward but won't resolve the underlying issue - human behaviour. Not living in Qatar, I can't state with certainty what lifestyles are like, but if it's anything like the UAE, you'll have sprinklers wetting down parks in the middle of the day, people driving cars everywhere, and a population that never switches off the lights or the TV. As long as water, fuel and electricity remain subsidised and cheap, there is no incentive for anyone to reduce their consumption.
As a Canadian expat working for the Qatar State Oil Company I am very disappointed and frustrated in the apathy towards conservation and sustainability in Qatar.
There is no recycling program, we all drink 350ml bottles of water all day, print every email and document and at the end of the day throw it all in the trash, our office buildings are not built to international standards and are not energy efficient at all and we have no employee wellness program or incentives for fitness and conservation.
What is ironic is we seem to sponsor a different HSE conference or initiative every month but don't practice what we preach at all!
Aye - as an interesting aside, in Dubai, the average Emirati consumes 5x the water and electricity of an expat. Roughly speaking, it means that 20% of the population consumes MORE than the other 80%.
Subsidies aren't necessarily a bad thing, unless they make something so cheap that its abused.
Shouldnt they have the right to cheap electricity and water in their own country? Also their lifestyle is different, they need large homes and more than one car so obviously more water and electricity will be used. The average expat comes to the Gulf to save, and can live on a cheap lifestyle, so our consumption will be less also.
@Siraj, help yourself.
"There is a big danger facing the water reserves in the UAE," said Khalid bin Zayed, the chairman of the committee in charge of foreign relations, planning, agriculture and mineral wealth. "Therefore, we have taken up the issue of water resources."
Mr bin Zayed's committee will present a report on the country's water resources to the FNC today. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, the Minister of Environment and Water, will respond.
"The UAE [has] limited water resources," Mr bin Zayed said.
You may use all the water you feel like. If you do not care about the future of your country, you can be assured that I care even less and I will certainly not be around when you run out of water. I pity the guys here who are trying to take a long term view.
@ Siraj: Telcoguy said it well. It shows lack of concern for the future of the country.
Also, who do you think is subsidizing this "right to cheap electricity and water"? DEWA generates substantial profits every single year, which means someone is paying higher rates than they otherwise would to allow another segment of the population to abuse and waste resources. Connect the dots...