UK’s carbon footprint far too high, according to WWF

27 November 2007

Some parts of the UK are more carbon friendly than others. For instance people living in Plymouth and Newport are having the least impact on the UK environment while people in those living in Winchester are having the most, according to a new green league table of mainland UK cities. According to a World Wildlife Fund report, the main factors affecting an individual’s ecological footprint are: housing, transport, food, consumer goods and public and private services. The ecological footprint is made up of the land and sea area required to feed, provide resources, produce energy and to absorb their waste and pollution.

WWF’s report is based on a survey they have carried out and ranks 60 cities in England, Scotland and Wales by the average ecological footprint of their residents. Glasgow came top and Edinburgh. bottom in Scotland while Newport had the lowest footprint and Bangor the highest in Wales. In the North east of England According to the green campaign group WWF, Durham City residents have a much greater impact on the environment than the residents of London. Conversely, Sunderland is one of the best performing cities in the country .
Amongst the conclusions made in the report is the idea that that large carbon footprints are closely tied to prosperity. Durham shares its lowly spot in the national table with other cathedral and university cities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury and Winchester.

Crudely speaking, more people with more money spend more time in bigger cars, eating more exotic food (imported from around the world), holidaying in distant countries and buying more consumer goods which all contribute towards a larger carbon footprint.

Other discrepancies between cities may be as a result of geographical location (its colder up North has always been a popular excuse for turning on the central heating early!) but the differences between those contributing the highest amount and those least is quite significant and it is essential that we take note of the data to help us all reduce our carbon footprint.
The results of the survey give a poor picture for the country as a whole and even those cities at the lower end of the scale are consuming more than their fair share of natural resources, says WWF. However, there are examples of cities that have tackled particular issues such as London which has a very low transport footprint. The fact that this is the case in London is a fantastic achievement and could provide a template for other major cities.

The fact is that since the city is where most of us live, it is also the place with the greatest potential to improve its carbon rating. Head of campaigns at WWF-UK, Colin Butfield,, said: “The battle for the environment will be won or lost in our cities. They have the highest potential for eco-living due to local facilities, public transport links, dense housing and shared public resources."
The WWF is one of many agencies today who have a very close link to the carbon footprint debate and have an interest in seeing the levels of carbon emissions reduced. One of the first things to tackle head on is awareness and recognition of personal responsibility. A good starting point for individuals is one of the many carbon footprint calculators available on line. If individuals are at least aware of the impact they are having then this is the first step towards understanding and thereafter to making an effort to reduce ones carbon output. . ( To check you personal Carbon Footprint visit

The UK, as a developed country is responsible for producing a huge carbon footprint. “If everyone consumed natural resources and generated carbon emissions at the rate we do in the UK we would need three planets to support us”, the report says. With this in mind Carbon Managers advocate the conscious effort of all of us to minimize our carbon footprint through conscious decision in their everyday life.

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