Swiss need to consume "smarter"

If the rest of the world lived in a similar manner to the Swiss, 2.82 planets would be needed to support global consumption AFP

Switzerland is 24th in the world in terms of the impact of its ecological footprint, according to the latest Living Planet report from WWF, which documents the changing state of the earth’s biodiversity and the impact of humans.

This content was published on May 15, 2012 - 11:40
Sophie Douez, and agencies

The report by the environmental organisation found that humanity is consuming resources at double the rate at which the earth can provide them, to the point that by 2030 humans will need the equivalent of three planets to support them.

WWF calculated the ecological imprint of each country per capita. Qatar was judged to consume the most, followed by Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, the United States and Belgium.

Switzerland consumes more resources per capita than France, which ranked 26, Germany, 33, and Italy, 35. The world’s poorest countries, such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Eritrea, Bangladesh and East Timor were found to consume the least.

The WWF estimated that if the rest of the world lived in a similar manner to the Swiss, 2.82 planets would be needed to support global consumption.

The main driver of Switzerland’s high ecological footprint is its “massive” consumption of fossil fuels which is “much higher” compared with other countries, WWF spokesman Felix Gnehm told

“So that’s the way we live in our houses, the way we are mobile – we still don’t use public transport enough – the way we use energy for heating,” Gnehm said.

Consume smarter

The WWF report also measured the “biocapacity” of countries – the ability of each country to produce the resources it needs, in which Switzerland ranked 88th, reflecting its heavy reliance on other countries.

Gnehm said we had to look at “what we consume and the way we consume it” in order to reduce Switzerland’s ecological footprint.

He added that although Switzerland had a strong organic farming sector, it remained a niche and the country depended heavily on imported food products.

In addition to stronger regulations and better labelling of organic or fair trade products, consumers “have to consume smarter, not necessarily less”.

“Focus on quality, try to waste less, buy things that last and products that are labelled [organic], buy more local and seasonal produce,” he said.

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