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Towards Kyoto II: numbers matter!

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to employ a unified data base to map the basics of the global environmental predicament today, namely the Living Planer Report. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper provides review and critique of the measurement rod in the Ecological Footprint Framework consisting of the hectares, or area of land, air or sea, used by mankind in production and consumption (demand) as well as the hectares that a country has inherited from its past (supply). Biocapacity tends to be country specific. Findings ‐ When total ecological imprint is estimated, taking population size into account, then it is not tenable to argue that pollution goes with affluence. On the contrary, poor or medium income countries with a large population may have more ecological impact than super affluent countries, especially after biocapacity has been taken into account. Research limitations/implications ‐ To be effective, a policy aiming at reducing the ecological footprint of social systems must take population numbers into account. The per capita figures present only half of the truth, as population size has a huge impact upon pollution and emissions. Practical implications ‐ Global ecological pressure is the largest in the Asia-Pacific region. A future global environmental policy ‐ Kyoto II or Copenhagen I ‐ must include the huge Asian countries ‐ China and India ‐ on an equal footing with other countries. Originality/value ‐ The distinction between per capita emissions and total emissions. Any global ecology policy that confuses these two measures will be flawed.
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Keywords: Databases; Ecology; Environmental management; Natural resources; Pollution

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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