WWF consumption pressure study attacked

Norwegian environment ministry rejects "most damaging" country label

The Norwegian environment ministry has roundly rejected a claim by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) that Norwegians cause more damage to biodiversity through over-consumption than any other nationality. In an unpublished analysis of a WWF study published three weeks ago, the ministry says that the environmental group's indicators are irrelevant and its data faulty. WWF's Living Planet Index was an innovative attempt to measure world biodiversity loss quantitatively and then link this to per-capita consumption rates of key natural resources. Norwegians emerged as imposing the greatest pressure of all on biodiversity, followed by the Taiwanese, Chileans, Singaporeans, Danes and Americans (ENDS Daily 2 October). Several figures calculated for Norway are incorrect, according to the environment ministry. Norwegians use 490 cubic metres of water per year, not 46. Per capita emissions of carbon dioxide are 8.72 tonnes per year, not 17.26 as calculated by WWF. Even had the figures been correct, the ministry claims, the indicators would not measure a real burden on the environment. If Norwegians consumed 1,000 cubic metres of water per year, 99% of the country's freshwater runoff would remain untapped, it says. The ministry acknowledges that Norwegian wood use is relatively high, but says that only half of annual forest growth is harvested and Norwegian forest cover is growing. "We see ranking lists as useful to mobilise for action," the ministry concludes. "But we believe that indicators that really measure our net burden on the environment, at home and abroad through our imports, will not find us as the leader of the dirty dozen."

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