Heavy ecological footprint gives Portugal dismal “thumbs down”

It sounds like a good thing: a heavy ecological footprint, but it is actually quite the opposite – and Portugal’s has increased in heaviness by 73% over the last 52 years.

Put another way, if every country had equivalent ‘footprint’, we would need 2.3 planets to remain sustainable.

This the view of a study by sustainable earth association Zero, in partnership with the Global Footprint Network.

Publishing its findings to commemorate International Environment Day, the bottom line is that every year Portugal wastes three billion cubic metres of water (half of it in urban centres), has polluted air and produces an “excessive amount of rubbish” – a daily average of 1.26 kgs per person.

Last year, things were already gloomy (click here), with Portugal’s Mediterranean Diet blamed for nationals eating unsustainable quantities of fish.

This year, we’re told the country has the 9th heaviest ecological footprint of the Mediterranean, which, put that way, doesn’t actually sound that bad.

In fact, there is a shred of cheer: Público says the country has seen a 24% growth in its capacity to “satisfy human necessities and absorb environmental impacts (biocapacity)” though there is still “a long way to go”, as the “superiority” of our ecological footprint in relation to our production capacity “results in an ecological deficit of 2,3 gha” – gha being global hectares per capita.

On a world scale, ecological footprints increased by 22%, taking ‘biocapacity’ down by 45%.

As Zero’s Susana Fonseca explained: “With the world’s population increasing, we have less and less global hectares available. We have to divide the same area by a greater number of people” while some areas are becoming further and further “degraded”.

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