Footprint Network Blog - 06/2016

Can the UK survive on its own?

06/24/2016 11:11 AM

In the wake of the stunning Brexit vote results, we ask, what does it take to the support the UK’s demand for natural resources? Consider this:

The UK’s forest land only covers 3% of UK resident’s demand for forest products and carbon emissions sequestration. Carbon emissions from fossil fuel use make up 63 percent of the UK’s overall demand for nature, or its Ecological Footprint.

If the UK used all of its forests for forest products only (and nothing for carbon sequestration), they would meet only 27% of UK residents’ demand for forest products, including timber for building and paper. This means that nearly three-quarter of the UK’s demand for forest products is met by other countries.

The UK’s grazing lands meet only 42% of UK residents’ demand for grazing products – primarily meat and dairy. More than half of the demand is met by resources beyond its borders.

The UK covers 72% of its demand for crops with resources within its borders. In other words, it is relying on the resources of other countries to meet more than one quarter (28%) of its citizens demands for crops.

Overall, the UK requires 3.8 times more than what the UK’s ecosystems can renew including the sequestration of carbon from fossil fuel use. If all fossil carbon was magically sequestered, the UK would still require 1.4 UKs to meet its citizens’ remaining demand, leaving no space for wild species inhabiting the UK.

Even after the vote, the UK is far from independent. It seems that the Brits may be underestimating their reliance on the rest of the world to meet their demand for natural resources.

Categories: Carbon Footprint, Ecological Limits

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