Ecological Footprint by Country 2022

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What is an ecological footprint?

Ecological footprint is a metric computed by the Global Footprint Network and used to determine the impact humans are having on the environment in a given place or country. Ecological footprint measures the natural resources humans are consuming in the environment through activities such as forestry, farming, fishing, mining, and manufacturing. Especially when considered alongside complementary metrics such as biocapacity, ecological footprint can help individuals understand their impact on the planet; guide countries in improving sustainability and well-being, and inform local leaders allocating funding for public projects.

Ecological footprint is typically used alongside another metric, biocapacity, to establish a supply-and-demand-based environmental accounting system. The supply of natural resources (biocapacity) is compared to the demand for those resources (the footprint) to determine if the environment is capable of sustaining current levels of resource consumption. As a rule, both ecological footprint and biocapacity are expressed in "per capita" values using global hectares (gha) as the unit.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Ecological Footprint (in gha, 2017)

  1. Qatar — 14.72
  2. Luxembourg — 12.79
  3. United Arab Emirates — 8.95
  4. Bahrain — 8.66
  5. Trinidad and Tobago — 8.23
  6. Canada — 8.08
  7. Mongolia — 8.05
  8. United States — 8.04
  9. Kuwait — 8.03
  10. Oman — 7.29

Ecological footprint, biocapacity, and biocapacity reserve

In terms of supply and demand, ecological footprint covers only the demand side of the equation, measuring the ecological assets a population needs to produce the natural resources it consumes and to absorb its carbon emissions and other waste. In order to gauge the true impact of a country's ecological footprint, it must be compared to a parallel metric, biocapacity, which covers the supply side of the equation. Biocapacity measures the capacity of a given area to generate renewable resources and to absorb any wastes generated by their consumption—in other words, its ability to support a human population.

If a given population’s ecological footprint exceeds its biocapacity, that population has an ecological deficit. This means that the population’s demand for natural resources exceeds its supply, which can lead to resource shortages (including basics such as food and shelter), higher prices, and elevated levels of pollution in the air, water, and soil. Conversely, if a given population’s biocapacity exceeds its ecological footprint, it has an ecological reserve, which means it can support the existing population at its current level of consumption with few worries. Therefore, maintaining an ecological footprint that is smaller than biocapacity is a necessary condition for the sustainability of humanity.

Ecological footprint is often subtracted from biocapacity to determine an environment's "biocapacity reserve," which displays the supply/demand comparison as a single number. A positive biocapacity reserve means the environment is producing or replenishing resources faster than humans are currently consuming them. A negative reserve means that humans are using the resources faster than the environment can replenish them.

Ecological footprints, biocapacities, and biocapacity reserves vary greatly between countries. A country’s footprint and biocapacity depend on several factors including its geography, population size, environmental policies, and level of development. Highly developed and high-income countries tend to have higher ecological footprints than low-income or least developed countries, which often have less industry and smaller populations. That said, many developing countries burn vast amounts of fossil fuel, which is often the primary contributor to ecological footprint. Smaller land area (which decreases biocapacity) and high populations (which increase consumption) can also be a factor. Also, it is possible for highly developed countries to achieve a positive biocapacity reserve, as shown by the presence of both Canada and Finland in the top 10 listed below. Additional eco-friendly countries include Denmark and Switzerland.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Biocapacity Reserve (in gha, 2017)

  1. Suriname — 80.87
  2. Guyana — 63.98
  3. Gabon — 19.28
  4. Bolivia — 12.41
  5. Congo (Rep. of) — 7.87
  6. Canada — 6.90
  7. Paraguay — 6.74
  8. Finland — 6.61
  9. Central African Republic — 6.35
  10. Brazil — 5.80

The world-average ecological footprint was 2.77 global hectares per person (12 billion total) in 2017, with an average biocapacity of 1.60 global hectares. This computes to a global deficit of 1.17 global hectares per person, or a biocapacity reserve of -1.17, meaning humanity's consumption of natural resources is currently outpacing the Earth's ability to replenish those resources.

5 countries with the highest total ecological deficits (in gha)

1. China

China had an ecological footprint of 3.71 hectares per capita and a biocapacity of 0.92 per capita in 2017. China’s total ecological footprint is 5.3 billion gha, the highest of any country in the world. China boasts a biocapacity of 1.3 billion hectares, the second-largest in the world (behind Brazil) but also has more people than any other country, which ultimately results in a total ecological deficit of -4 billion gha and a per-capita biocapacity reserve of -2.79—both quite high for a country with such impressive biocapacity. As China’s economy continues to rapidly expand, its citizens' incomes—and their consumption of resources—are rising as well. This unbalanced consumption of resources will likely be one of China's main concerns for the future.

2. United States

The U.S. has an ecological footprint of 8.04 gha per capita, one of the highest in the world, with a biocapacity per capita of only 3.45 hectares. This leads to a total ecological deficit of -1.49 billion hectares, a biocapacity reserve of -4.59 gha per capita. The average US citizen's ecological footprint is about 50% larger than that of the average person in most European countries. The U.S. has more suburban sprawl and less public transportation than most countries, which burns more fossil fuels and adds to its per-capita carbon usage. The U.S. population also uses more energy and water per person than most other comparable, developed countries. California, for example, has approximately the same ecological footprint (and GDP) as France, despite having roughly 60% as many people (39.5 million vs 65.3 million).

3. India

India’s ecological footprint per capita is a modest 1.19, which is arguably a reflection of a negative quality: the country's widespread poverty, in which many people cannot afford to own a car or heat their homes. India's biocapacity per capita is also low, 0.43 hectares, likely a symptom of the country's smaller land area compared to the U.S. and China. India's biocapacity reserve of -0.76 ranks fairly well among other countries—however, because India also has the world's second-largest population, its total ecological deficit still reaches more than -1 billion hectares.

4 & 5. Japan and South Korea

Japan’s ecological footprint is 4.65 hectares per capita and its biocapacity is 0.59 hectares per capita. Japan’s ecological deficit is -517 million gha, the fourth-highest in the world. As with many countries, the majority of Japan’s ecological footprint comes from its burning of fossil fuels. However, Japan's biocapacity is additionally stressed by small land area, which decreases production, combined with a comparatively large population and a high level of advancement, both of which boost consumption. The world's fifth-largest ecological deficit (-281 billion gha) belongs to South Korea, whose scenario—high carbon use, low biocapacity, dense population, and high advancement—mirrors that of Japan.

Eco-footprint success story: the United Kingdom

However, it is notable that the United Kingdom, which had the fifth-largest ecological deficit just a few years ago, has dropped to ninth place and is on track to keep falling. Between 2007 and 2017, the United Kingdom’s ecological footprint dropped nearly 27%, due mostly to reductions in fossil fuel use, which trimmed the country's overall ecological deficit from -307.9 billion gha in 2007 to -206.2 gha in 2017.

Ecological Footprint by Country 2022

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Ecological Footprint by Country 2022

Country Ecological Footprint (per capita) Biocapacity (per capita) 2022 Population
Qatar14.720.972,979,915
Luxembourg12.791.21642,371
United Arab Emirates8.950.5310,081,785
Bahrain8.660.481,783,983
Trinidad And Tobago8.231.541,406,585
Canada8.0814.9838,388,419
Mongolia8.0513.763,378,078
United States8.043.45334,805,269
Kuwait8.030.004,380,326
Bermuda8.000.1461,939
Cook Islands7.341.4117,571
Oman7.291.465,323,993
Australia7.2712.6426,068,792
Estonia7.169.741,321,910
Denmark6.934.225,834,950
Aruba6.640.56107,609
Belgium6.600.8211,668,278
Latvia6.130.481,848,837
Sweden6.089.4310,218,971
Austria6.022.739,066,710
Brunei6.002.75445,431
Kazakhstan5.993.5519,205,043
Belize5.993.76412,190
Singapore5.870.065,943,546
Lithuania5.865.142,661,708
Cayman Islands5.860.3067,277
Finland5.8412.455,554,960
Norway5.787.155,511,370
Saudi Arabia5.770.4235,844,909
Malta5.680.58444,033
Israel5.550.228,922,892
Russia5.486.96145,805,947
Czech Republic5.472.3610,736,784
Turkmenistan5.222.366,201,943
Netherlands5.020.8117,211,447
Ireland5.013.345,020,199
Slovenia4.902.182,078,034
Poland4.711.9737,739,785
Germany4.701.5483,883,596
Japan4.650.59125,584,838
France4.602.5365,584,518
Switzerland4.471.028,773,637
Montserrat4.451.334,965
Italy4.410.8860,262,770
Slovakia4.412.695,460,193
Portugal4.401.2810,140,570
Bhutan4.374.90787,941
New Zealand4.329.164,898,203
Martinique4.310.39374,087
Chile4.283.4119,250,195
Antigua And Barbuda4.270.8399,509
United Kingdom4.201.0868,497,907
Belarus4.203.099,432,800
Greece4.121.3910,316,637
Montenegro4.093.01627,950
Guadeloupe4.050.46399,794
Spain4.031.2046,719,142
Malaysia3.912.2933,181,072
Cyprus3.880.241,223,387
French Polynesia3.841.34284,164
Barbados3.730.17288,023
Croatia3.722.994,059,286
China3.710.921,448,471,400
Hungary3.672.519,606,259
Bulgaria3.643.306,844,597
Bahamas3.639.06400,516
Turkey3.511.4085,561,976
Bosnia And Herzegovina3.491.773,249,317
Libya3.460.657,040,745
British Virgin Islands3.431.8630,596
Romania3.403.0919,031,335
Lebanon3.330.266,684,849
Argentina3.306.5846,010,234
Tonga3.241.60107,749
South Africa3.161.0360,756,135
Paraguay3.099.837,305,843
Bolivia3.0815.4911,992,656
Guyana3.0767.05794,045
Mauritius3.060.701,274,727
Brazil2.818.61215,353,593
Fiji2.812.16909,466
Suriname2.7683.63596,831
Grenada2.761.98113,475
Serbia2.751.348,653,016
Botswana2.743.022,441,162
Ukraine2.662.5843,192,122
Mexico2.621.14131,562,772
Thailand2.581.2270,078,203
Costa Rica2.571.515,182,354
Samoa2.521.82202,239
Saint Lucia2.500.33185,113
French Guiana2.3394.42314,169
Mauritania2.313.914,901,981
Algeria2.300.5045,350,148
Dominica2.291.0272,344
Panama2.272.714,446,964
Djibouti2.250.721,016,097
Vietnam2.241.0098,953,541
Georgia2.181.273,968,738
Gabon2.1721.452,331,533
Peru2.153.6233,684,208
Tunisia2.150.6812,046,656
Namibia2.106.192,633,874
Albania2.050.992,866,374
Ghana2.041.3532,395,450
Uzbekistan2.000.9434,382,084
Laos2.001.767,481,023
El Salvador1.990.576,550,389
Azerbaijan1.970.7410,300,205
Jordan1.930.1610,300,869
Colombia1.913.6051,512,762
Solomon Islands1.884.00721,159
Moldova1.871.254,013,171
Cuba1.820.7811,305,652
Papua New Guinea1.823.489,292,169
Jamaica1.810.392,985,094
Iraq1.800.1942,164,965
Armenia1.800.632,971,966
Equatorial Guinea1.802.521,496,662
Egypt1.780.40106,156,692
Guatemala1.780.9618,584,039
Morocco1.770.7337,772,756
Dominican Republic1.750.6011,056,370
Nicaragua1.742.206,779,100
Myanmar1.711.8355,227,143
Ecuador1.711.9518,113,361
Guinea1.681.9913,865,691
Chad1.671.7817,413,580
Indonesia1.661.22279,134,505
Sao Tome And Principe1.620.83227,679
Niger1.561.2826,083,660
Kyrgyzstan1.551.186,728,271
Honduras1.541.5310,221,247
Sri Lanka1.490.4221,575,842
Lesotho1.470.772,175,699
Guinea Bissau1.452.772,063,367
Mali1.441.4521,473,764
Ivory Coast1.422.0027,742,298
Benin1.410.8912,784,726
Philippines1.340.54112,508,994
Sudan1.331.2145,992,020
Cambodia1.331.0717,168,639
Cameroon1.261.6027,911,548
India1.190.431,406,631,776
Central African Republic1.177.525,016,678
Syria1.160.4419,364,809
Senegal1.160.9417,653,671
Comoros1.140.33907,419
Burkina Faso1.120.8922,102,838
Liberia1.112.245,305,117
Nepal1.090.5630,225,582
Togo1.090.518,680,837
Republic of the Congo1.078.945,797,805
Uganda1.040.4648,432,863
Zimbabwe1.030.4815,331,428
Nigeria1.020.63216,746,934
Ethiopia1.010.57120,812,698
Sierra Leone1.000.878,306,436
Kenya0.990.4756,215,221
Zambia0.971.8519,470,234
Tajikistan0.970.519,957,464
Somalia0.950.8316,841,795
Gambia0.930.692,558,482
Angola0.921.8735,027,343
Madagascar0.922.2829,178,077
Malawi0.900.6920,180,839
Pakistan0.860.35229,488,994
Bangladesh0.830.40167,885,689
Palestine0.810.095,345,541
Mozambique0.801.7333,089,461
Timor Leste0.741.491,369,429
Rwanda0.670.3613,600,464
Afghanistan0.660.3740,754,388
Haiti0.640.2911,680,283
Burundi0.630.3612,624,840
Yemen0.610.3731,154,867
Venezuela0.570.5429,266,991
Eritrea0.511.583,662,244
Tanzania0.280.2863,298,550
South Korea0.170.0051,329,899
Iran0.100.0786,022,837
DR Congo0.010.2695,240,792
North Korea0.000.0025,990,679

Ecological Footprint by Country 2022

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