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Why a Genuine Progress Index

Why a Genuine Progress Index

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Why a Genuine Progress Index

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  1. The Prince Edward Island Ecological FootprintGenuine Progress Index for Atlantic CanadaIndice de progrès véritable - AtlantiqueCharlottetown, Prince Edward IslandAugust 14, 2003

  2. Why a Genuine Progress Index Four hundred leading economists and thinkers, including Nobel Laureates, said: “Since the GDP measures only the quantity of market activity without accounting for the social and ecological costs involved, it is both inadequate and misleading as a measure of true prosperity....New indicators of progress are urgently needed to guide our society....The GPI is an important step in this direction.”

  3. Economic growth statistics: • Count crime, war, sickness, pollution, disasters, addiction, stress as contributions to economic growth and prosperity. • Count the depletion of our natural resources as gain. The more trees we cut down, the more fish we catch, the more fossil fuels we burn, the faster the economy will grow.

  4. Current Measures: • Ignore the value of voluntary work and unpaid household work • Count longer work hours as contributions to economic growth and prosperity • Ignore the value of free time • Assign no value to health, security, educational attainment, environmental quality, resource conservation or strong communities

  5. Indicators are Powerful What we measure: • reflects what we value as a society; • determines what makes it onto the policy agenda (e.g. volunteer work); • influences behaviour (e.g students)

  6. In the Genuine Progress Index: • Natural, human, and social capital valued • Reductions in GHG emissions, pollution, crime, poverty, ecological footprint are signs of genuine progress that make index rise. Unlike GDP-based measures, "less" is sometimes "better" in the GPI • Growing equity makes the GPI go up • Economic valuations key. E.g. voluntary work worth $53.2 billion; 8.7% loss costs Canadians $4.7 billion

  7. GPI Atlantic founded 1997 • Independent non-profit research group • Mandate: Create more accurate, comprehensive measures of progress, sustainable development • Nova Scotia pilot project for Canada, close consultation with Statistics Canada • Can provide early warning signals for policy makers, demonstrate cost-effectiveness of prevention, spotlight soc-econ-envt linkages, stimulate debate, hold leaders accountable

  8. NS GPI has 22 Components: • Natural Resource Accounts - forests, fish, soils, water, energy (NRTEE assistance) • Measures of Environmental Quality (air, GHG emissions, solid waste, ecological footprint, sustainable transportation) • Time Use (paid + unpaid work, free time) • Social/Human Capital (health, education, income distribution, livelihood security, crime, debt)

  9. The ecological footprint of any population is: the biologically productive area of land and water required to: • Produce the food, wood, energy and all the other resources that residents consume • Provide room for buildings, roads, infrastructure • Absorb the wastes, carbon dioxide and other pollutants that result from human activity (Rees and Wackernagel, UBC)

  10. Ecological Footprint and the Genuine Progress Index Essential element of the NS GPI, because 1. Shifts onus for sustainability from solely producers (NR accounts) to consumers 2. Challenges economic growth paradigm 3. Identifies social/equity component of sustainability (Brundtland, Stats Canada) 4. Recognizes that local consumption has global consequences

  11. 1. Onus for Sustainability • Most measures of sustainable development implicitly place the onus for change on the producer = “to harvest more sustainably” • EF addresses the demand side of the sustainability equation and assesses the impacts of our consumption patterns on the environment. EF complements GPI natural resource accounts that focus on supply side.

  12. 2. Challenges the Economic Growth Paradigm • Ecological footprint analysis challenges the assumption that "more" is necessarily "better“. Suzuki on growth vs balance • The GPI contains several components in which "less" is frequently "better," and a more accurate signal of societal wellbeing • In the GPI, a smaller footprint is a sign of genuine progress

  13. 3. Equity is part of sustainability equation • Ecological footprint links sustainability clearly and directly with equity and social justice • It demonstrates relationship between income, consumption, and environmental impact. Higher income groups have larger footprint • It cuts through illusions that we can improve the living standards of the poor without also examining the consumption patterns of the rich and that we can “maintain” current excess

  14. 4. EF links local consumption patterns with global consequences • Local consumption practices may involve natural resource depletion far away • We may indulge unsustainably high levels of consumption in North America, perhaps even without depleting local resources, but rather by "appropriating the carrying capacity" of other countries through trade

  15. Wealthy, industrialized nations have larger footprints = greater impact on environment 1999 Ecological footprints of: • Africa 1.36 ha per capita • Asia/Pacific region 1.37 ha per capita • Western Europe 4.97 ha per capita • North America 9.61 ha per capita

  16. Disparity in Ecological Footprint Size by Country, 1999

  17. Ecological Footprint By Region, 1999 • The size of each box is proportional to the aggregate footprint of each region • The height of each box is proportional to the region's average footprint/capita • The width of the box is proportional to the population of the region

  18. The Ecological Bottom Line • Productive land and sea on Earth = 11.4 billion ha • Divided by global population of ~ 6 billion people = 1.9 ha of biologically productive land/sea per person • However… we share the planet with over 10 million other species; so we can’t use entire bio-productive ecological space solely for human consumption • Brundtland Commission: 12% of bio-productive space should be set aside for biodiversity protection. That leaves < 1.7 ha of biologically productive land and sea per person on Earth

  19. The Ecological Bottom Line • Sustainable living therefore requires that each global citizen fulfill all his/her physiological, social, and economic needs within an area of 1.7 ha • Current average global ecological footprint (1999) is 2.3 ha per person • Therefore… humanity already exceeds the sustainable carrying capacity of the Earth by 35% • I.e. Human demand exceeds nature's supply. Humanity consumes more than nature can regenerate

  20. We are not all equally responsible • 4 billion people (70% world population) consume average of just 1.3 ha of bioproductive capacity pp • Global environmental decline can therefore be attributed to 30% of world's population – the 1.8 billion people who consume average of 6.5 ha of productive space per person • This 30% is responsible for 70% of global resource consumption and waste generation

  21. Global Distribution Above and Below Per Capita Global Biocapacity

  22. The Current Human Footprint Exceeds the Sustainable Capacities of the Earth • If everyone in the world consumed at PEI/Canadian levels, we’d need 4.7 planets Earth to provide the necessary resources + waste assimilation capacity • Raising global living standards to current levels in the wealthy countries would therefore put an intolerable strain on the Earth's resources. • = To maintain current consumption patterns in rich countries we need a billion people to live in absolute poverty without sufficient resources to sustain life and health

  23. Global “Ecological Overshoot” is temporarily possible by: • depleting reserves of natural capital (e.g., natural gas, old growth forests); • over-harvesting renewable resources to the brink of collapse (e.g. fish stocks); • causing irreversible ecological damage (e.g., species extinction) • overloading environment with waste products (air & water pollution, GHGs - climate change, ozone depletion, etc.)

  24. Components of the Prince Edward Island Ecological Footprint 1. Food Footprint: calculated as arable cropland (used to grow crops for food, animal feed) + Grazing land (animals for meat, hides, wool, milk) + Fishing grounds (marine and freshwater fishing) 2. Other Crop Footprint: Arable land required to grow non-food items, including fibre crops (e.g., cotton), rubber, oil, tobacco, etc. [Remember – not PEI land, but for PEI consumers!!]

  25. PEI Footprint includes 3. Forest Footprint: timber for wood, fibre, and fuel, calculated as natural and plantation forest land 4. Built-Up Footprint: Land used for housing, transportation, industrial production, hydro-electric power, and other infrastructure 5. Energy Footprint: calculated as area needed to sequester enough CO2 emissions to avoid an increase in atmospheric CO2. The total energy footprint includes CO2 from fossil fuels, fuel wood, and nuclear and hydro energy

  26. How Big is the PEI Ecological Footprint? Area required to sustain current PEI resource use and waste production (total ecological footprint) = 8.98 hectares per person = 11 football fields pp (Canadian, incl. end zones) = ~ 10 city blocks pp (@ 100,000 sq. ft./city block) = 10.2 hectares per person if 12% set-aside of ecological space for biodiversity is included

  27. With a land area of 568,439 hectares, population of 137,980, and a footprint of 8.98 ha/capita, Prince Edward Islanders require the productive output of a land area 2.2 times larger than the geographical area of the province to support their current consumption levels • Prince Edward Islanders not only use the ecological capacity from within PEI but appropriate additional ecological capacity elsewhere on the planet through trade of goods and services that are derived from natural capital

  28. PEI’s ecological footprint includes • Food footprint = 3.49 ha/capita • Energy footprint = 4.3 ha/capita. • Food + energy = 87% of total footprint • Energy footprint includes residential, commercial, industrial, & transportation energy consumption • Transportation is largest contributor (1/3) to energy footprint = 1.44 ha/capita Residential energy consumption = 0.73 ha/capita

  29. How Does PEI Compare to Canada? • PEI’s ecological footprint of 8.98 ha/capita is 1.6% larger than Canadian footprint (8.84 ha/cap.) • Average rural PEI footprint larger than urban • Charlottetown-Summerside footprint is 8.3 ha/capita, so urban Islanders need the productive output of a land area 1.1 times larger than PEI, or 6.8 times larger than Charlottetown-Summerside

  30. Ecological Footprints of Prince Edward Island & Canada

  31. Rich Islanders have bigger footprints • The typical Prince Edward Islander (median income) has a footprint of 8.5 ha/capita, compared to provincial average of 8.98 ha/capita • Poorest 20% of Islanders have a footprint of 7.6 ha/capita while wealthiest 20% of Islanders have a footprint of 11.4 ha/capita • A wealthy Islander has over 1.5 times the impact on the environment of a low income Islander

  32. Ecological Footprint by Quintile

  33. Ecological Footprint is Growing • PEI’s ecological footprint grew between 1981 and 2000 by 65%, increasing from 5.79 ha/capita to 9.53 ha/capita • during the same period the Canadian footprint grew by 100% from 4.59 ha/capita to 9.18 ha/capita • PEI’s footprint will continue to increase, by an additional 21% to 10.83 hectares per capita between 1999 and 2020 • by 2020 the Canadian footprint is expected to total 10.85 ha/capita, 0.2% higher than the projected PEI footprint

  34. Ecological Footprint Time Series, Prince Edward Island, 1981-2000

  35. Ecological Footprint Time Series, Canada, 1981-2000

  36. Ecological Footprint Projections, Prince Edward Island, 1995-2020

  37. Ecological Footprint Projections, Canada, 1995-2020

  38. Ecological Footprint & GDP are related • Canadian and PEI per capita GDP and footprint growth rates virtually parallel in last 20 years • Conventionally, GDP growth is primary indicator of how "well off" we are as society. Higher per capita GDP -> more consumption -> “greater wellbeing” • From GPI perspective, smaller ecological footprint denotes less impact on the environment, genuine progress, greater long-term wellbeing, sustainability. • Since GDP and footprint are closely related, GPI questions “limitless growth” assumption

  39. Ecological Footprint & GDP

  40. Reducing PEI’s Ecological Footprint1) Transportation • Drive less, walk & cycle more, use public transport, car-pool. Switch from 1/car -> 4/car, 3 days/week, reduces commuting footprint by 45% • Living near place of work reduces dependency upon cars (91.5% Islanders now drive to work) • Therefore coordinated land use/transportation planning is essential to bring about any substantial shift in transportation patterns

  41. If we drive, we can still reduce our driving footprint • Change driving style (service vehicles regularly, avoid idling, accelerate and brake smoothly, use air conditioning less frequently, etc.) • Drive fuel-efficient cars (also reduces fuel costs) • One SUV has 3 times the impact on the environment of a small car • SUVs projected to increase by 46% (1997-2020) in Canada

  42. Daily awareness is key to reducing residential energy footprint & saving $$ • switch to time based-programmable thermostat • turn down the thermostat at night to 17 degrees • switch to halogen or compact fluorescent bulbs • install a low flow shower head • switch to energy efficient appliances • turn lights & appliances off when not needed • limit use of air conditioners • have shorter showers

  43. Reducing PEI’s Food Footprint • Why is the PEI food footprint so large? • Overeating - 3119 cals/pp optimal-2500 (m), 1,900 (f); 38% of Islanders are overweight (Canada = 32%) • Canadian agriculture system is highly energy intensive • Public policy that supports local agriculture, organic farming methods, best use of land, and good nutritional education, will produce greatest and most effective food footprint reductions

  44. Islanders can reduce food footprint: • Maintain healthy weight, reduce overeating, don’t waste food. Eat the amount of daily calories appropriate for age and level of activity • Eat locally produced foods & support local farmers to help reduce high transportation inputs into food system • Eat organically grown and sustainably farmed foods, to help reduce footprint-intensive energy and synthetic, petroleum-based inputs into agriculture (e.g. PEI Sustainable Resource Policy, FoodTrust)

  45. A Good News Story: Prince Edward Island's Solid Waste Footprint • 1989-2002, PEI waste diversion rate increased from 22% to 50% (projected rise to 65% in 2003) • PEI has already demonstrated ability to act quickly, decisively and effectively to reduce solid waste footprint. • If we can act effectively in one key area to reduce our impact on the environment without compromising our quality of life, then we can do so in energy, transportation, food, and other areas

  46. Prince Edward IslandWaste Diversion, 1989-2003

  47. Treading Lightly: We Can Reduce our Ecological Footprint • The ecological footprint is an effective educational tool to help PEI citizens, businesses, and govt. to understand and take responsibility for impact of consumption patterns and policy choices on envt. • Current PEI ecological footprint of 8.98 ha/ per person is clearly not sustainable • Footprint can motivate and measure success of actions taken to reduce impact on environment & to move PEI toward a healthy, sustainable community

  48. Treading lightly: An immediate footprint reduction target • If Islanders reduced their footprints from 8.98 ha/capita to 7.0 ha/capita, which can easily be done without compromising quality of life, the total provincial PEI footprint would shrink by over one quarter of a million hectares. A 2005 target date is realistic • This would be a sign of “genuine progress” in the GPI. (Premier’s conference a good model)

  49. Longer-term goals • In the long term, our ecological footprint needs to be reduced far more dramatically • As solid waste reduction accomplishment has shown, clear priorities, targets and decisive action can achieve substantial successes in a very short time period • Ultimately, deep footprint reductions essential to curbing current overshoot and protecting our children's future, will require collective rather than individual action alone

  50. In a world of limited resources and limited waste assimilation capacity, excess consumption by the rich literally requires that others live in poverty if we are not to exceed the Earth’s physical carrying capacity. Ecological footprint analysis cuts through the illusion that we can improve the living standards of the poor without curbing the excess consumption of the rich.