BEIJING – China consumes more than double what its natural resources can supply, a report by Chinese and international environmentalists said Tuesday.
If China were to follow the U.S. in individual demand on natural resources, it would need the available capacity of the entire planet, the report issued by WWF in Beijing said.
China uses 15 percent of the world’s total biological capacity — resources such as water, land and timber, the report said.
“In the next 10 to 20 years, China’s consumption will likely continue to pose threats to China’s own ecosystems and place increasing pressures on global biocapacity,” it said.
Zhu Guangyao, secretary-general of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, which jointly commissioned the report with the WWF, said it is crucial for China to develop sustainably in the next 20 years. The group advises the Chinese government on environmental issues.
Water and electricity are priced below their market value in China, causing it to be inefficiently used by farms and industry, and China imports large amounts of its timber to meet rising demand.
A Chinese person had a footprint of 3.95 global acres in 2003, the report said, using a global average to measure the amount of land a person needs to support their lifestyle. While it ranks 69 out of 147 nations measured that year, China’s population of 1.3 billion amplifies the size of the challenge, the report said.
China needs to improve the consumption of energy and other resources by urban residents, investing in efficient light bulbs, increase long-term productivity of land, and reduce dependence on wasteful transport systems, the report said.