A new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Towards a Low Footprint Scotland, plots how Scotland could move to a low-carbon, safer and more equitable society, providing a high quality of life for its citizens.
The report calculates that if everyone in the world consumed natural resources and generated carbon dioxide at the rate of Scotlanders, we would need three planets to support us. It concludes that Scotland needs to reduce its Footprint by 75% by 2050 in order to live within the planet’s resources, and that this cut can be achieved through more efficient products and better, less wasteful, consumption.
Achieving the necessary 75% reduction in Footprint will require wholehearted commitment from the Scottish Executive. The report contains far- reaching recommendations for the Executive, including recommendations that Scotland Adopt the Ecological Footprint as an indicator of sustainable development and analyse all new infrastructure developments to ensure they contribute to reducing Scotland’s Footprint.
“Technology alone can’t fix our ecological overdraft… Government must take the lead in creating the right conditions for change,” said Elizabeth Leighton, Senior Policy Officer with WWF Scotland, who commissioned the report.
The report posits that Scotland could be the first country in the world to seriously transform policy, government communications and financial incentives so that they reward sustainable living. This leadership could kick-start a shift to a lower Footprint economy that places pioneers like Scotland at the leading edge of global environmental initiatives, reaping benefits through jobs, health, and a more just society.
Report author and National Accounts committee member John Barrett, from Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York, envisions how Footprint reductions can increase well-being: “A low carbon lifestyle is compatible with high of quality of life. In a one planet Scotland we would live in warm comfortable homes that are highly energy efficient with a high proportion of the energy coming from renewable sources. These homes would be located close to our work, shopping, schools and leisure facilities, reducing the need to travel. Our diets would be healthy and balanced, taking advantage of local and organic produce. Most importantly we would have more time for our friends, family and community.”