Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE have the worst ecological footprints per capita in the world, according to a ground breaking international report that also found that the world has lost half of its wildlife in just 40 years. Kuwait’s ecological footprint per capita – based on consumption and efficiency with resources – is more than five times the global average, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Carbon makes up more than 80 percent of the oil producing country’s ecological impact.
Qatar’s per capita footprint is about 8.5 global hectares per person, compared to Kuwait at more than 10. The UAE, third on the list, is about 7.8 hectares per person. “… if all people on the planet had the footprint of the average resident of Qatar, we would need 4.8 planets,” the WWF report says.
“If we lived the lifestyle of a typical resident of the USA, we would need 3.9 planets.”
The least environmentally friendly nations were operating with an ecological deficit – that is their nation’s footprint is exceeding its own biocapacity by harvesting ecosystems faster than they regenerate, drawing on resources that have accumulated over time by importing products, and thus using the biocapacity of other nations and/or by using the global commons, for instance by releasing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning into the atmosphere.
The three Gulf states at the top of the list are also among the most wealthy in the world. Qatar is the richest country globally according to several international rankings. They also are top oil producers, a key contributor to carbon pollution, while their governments offer generous subsidies for oil, water and electricity – which have a high impact on the environment.
However, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, ranked lower at 33. The other Gulf states, Bahrain and Oman, were listed ninth and 21, respectively. The WWF report also revealed shocking statistics that showed the world’s wildlife population declined by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010 – a much faster rate than previously thought.
“The Ecological Footprint shows that 1.5 Earths would be required to meet the demands humanity makes on nature each year,” the report says. “These demands include the renewable resources we consume for food, fuel and fibre, the land we build on, and the forests we need to absorb our carbon emissions."
“For more than 40 years, humanity’s demand has exceeded the planet’s biocapacity – the amount of biologically productive land and sea area that is available to regenerate these resources. This continuing overshoot is making it more and more difficult to meet the needs of a growing global human population, as well as to leave space for other species."
“Adding further complexity is that demand is not evenly distributed, with people in industrialised countries consuming resources and services at a much faster rate.”