The data and trends below provide a picture of the capital’s environment to help assess the sustainability of London. This is part of the London State of the Environment Report for 2010.
The environment is important for London. It enables the city to function as it does by providing key eco-system services – water, air, land and natural resources.
What is an ecological footprint?
The ecological footprint measures the area of land needed to both:
The data on London’s ecological footprint has been sourced by using the Resource and Energy Analysis Programme (REAP) model. This model was produced by the Stockholm Environment Institute.
The calculation uses expenditure data – the higher cost of living in London may impact the final footprint. This means that London’s footprint may be potentially lower than reported below.
Trends on London’s footprint
London's ecological footprint is 4.54 global hectares (gha) per person (2006). This is slightly lower than the UK average of 4.64 gha per person.
Although London’s footprint is lower than the UK average, the high consumption of resources means it is just under twice the size of the global average footprint of 2.6 gha per person,(Global Footprint Network). When divided equally between the world population, it is 2.5 times bigger than the bio-capacity of the land (1.8 gha per person), which is the area of land available to supply natural resources.
The total ecological footprint for London in global hectares is over 34 million. This amounts to an area over 200 times the city itself.
The map above shows how much the ecological footprint in each of the London boroughs varies. In London the footprint varies more than any other region or devolved administration in the UK.
The City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Richmond upon Thames have the highest footprints in London – they are all over 5 GHA per person.
Barking and Dagenham, Tower Hamlets and Newham have the lowest ecological footprints in London, along with Hackney, Southwark and Brent.
The main contributors to the ecological footprint in London are:
- housing – mainly electricity and fuel use
- food – fruit and vegetables, and catering services.
London's ecological footprint is higher than the UK average for housing, food and private services.
The capital’s footprint is lower than the UK average for transport. This could be due to the higher cost of living in London, compared to the rest of the UK, plus the high use of public transport in London, and so the fewer miles that people drive.
The percentage of the ecological footprint made up by consumer items, public services and capital investments is the same for London and the UK.