Indicator Economy and Consumption

Ecological footprint per capita

The “ecological footprint” indicator is the best known parameter for measuring the global environmental impact of consumption. It measures the consumption of natural resources and expresses the area that would be necessary for the production of resources in global hectares (gha). The ecological footprint as defined by the Global Footprint Network (GFN) enables the general assessment (expressed in absolute values or number of Earths) of whether and to what extent the use of nature exceeds the biosphere’s regenerative capacity (biocapacity). If humanity’s footprint exceeds the world’s biocapacity, nature is being overused on a global scale.

Assessment of the state
poor poor
Assessment of the trend
negative negative
Global per capita biocapacity 2014: 1.68 Global per capita biocapacity 2013: 1.69 Global per capita biocapacity 2012: 1.68 Global per capita biocapacity 2011: 1.71 Global per capita biocapacity 2010: 1.72 Global per capita biocapacity 2009: 1.74 Global per capita biocapacity 2008: 1.77 Global per capita biocapacity 2007: 1.76 Global per capita biocapacity 2006: 1.77 Global per capita biocapacity 2005: 1.79 Global per capita biocapacity 2004: 1.83 Global per capita biocapacity 2003: 1.81 Global per capita biocapacity 2002: 1.84 Global per capita biocapacity 2001: 1.86 Global per capita biocapacity 2000: 1.87 Global per capita biocapacity 1999: 1.9 Global per capita biocapacity 1998: 1.92 Global per capita biocapacity 1997: 1.93 Global per capita biocapacity 1996: 1.95 Global per capita biocapacity 1995: 1.95 Global per capita biocapacity 1994: 1.99 Global per capita biocapacity 1993: 2 Global per capita biocapacity 1992: 2.03 Global per capita biocapacity 1991: 2.03 Global per capita biocapacity 1990: 2.08 Global per capita biocapacity 1989: 2.09 Global per capita biocapacity 1988: 2.09 Global per capita biocapacity 1987: 2.15 Global per capita biocapacity 1986: 2.18 Global per capita biocapacity 1985: 2.22 Global per capita biocapacity 1984: 2.24 Global per capita biocapacity 1983: 2.24 Global per capita biocapacity 1982: 2.29 Global per capita biocapacity 1981: 2.31 Global per capita biocapacity 1980: 2.33 Global per capita biocapacity 1979: 2.37 Global per capita biocapacity 1978: 2.42 Global per capita biocapacity 1977: 2.42 Global per capita biocapacity 1976: 2.46 Global per capita biocapacity 1975: 2.49 Global per capita biocapacity 1974: 2.53 Global per capita biocapacity 1973: 2.6 Global per capita biocapacity 1972: 2.62 Global per capita biocapacity 1971: 2.68 Global per capita biocapacity 1970: 2.71 Global per capita biocapacity 1969: 2.75 Global per capita biocapacity 1968: 2.81 Global per capita biocapacity 1967: 2.86 Global per capita biocapacity 1966: 2.9 Global per capita biocapacity 1965: 2.93 Global per capita biocapacity 1964: 2.98 Global per capita biocapacity 1963: 3.03 Global per capita biocapacity 1962: 3.09 Global per capita biocapacity 1961: 3.13 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2014: 4.85 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2013: 5.15 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2012: 5.1 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2011: 5.39 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2010: 5.46 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2009: 5.29 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2008: 5.81 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2007: 5.84 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2006: 5.57 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2005: 5.59 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2004: 5.35 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2003: 5.29 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2002: 5.24 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2001: 5.35 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 2000: 5.59 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1999: 5.49 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1998: 5.71 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1997: 5.64 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1996: 5.6 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1995: 5.74 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1994: 5.71 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1993: 5.64 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1992: 5.96 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1991: 6.22 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1990: 6.5 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1989: 6.36 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1988: 6.08 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1987: 5.94 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1986: 6.08 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1985: 5.91 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1984: 5.88 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1983: 5.63 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1982: 5.38 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1981: 5.76 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1980: 6.03 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1979: 5.86 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1978: 5.89 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1977: 5.48 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1976: 5.38 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1975: 5.13 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1974: 5.94 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1973: 6.49 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1972: 6.23 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1971: 6.06 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1970: 5.89 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1969: 5.4 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1968: 4.81 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1967: 4.8 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1966: 4.6 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1965: 4.67 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1964: 4.72 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1963: 4.61 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1962: 4.71 Switzerland's per capita ecological footprint 1961: 4.4
The diagram shows Switzerland's per capita resource consumption in global hectares (gha) and the global per capita biocapacity that corresponds to one "Earth".

Data for the graph: Excel
Source: Global Footprint Network (GFN)
Comment

Switzerland’s per capita "ecological footprint" is currently around 4.9 global hectares (gha). The globally available biocapacity per capita is 1.7 gha (GFN 2018). Hence, around three Earths would be needed if the entire global population consumed at the same rate as people in Switzerland. Accordingly, the state is assessed as negative.

The imbalance between Switzerland’s ecological footprint and global biocapacity has existed for decades and is increasing. Hence the trend is assessed as negative.

International comparison

Switzerland is one of the countries in the world with the highest ecological footprint per capita (33th out of 150).

Method

The “ecological footprint” includes all stages involved in the production of goods – from raw material extraction and the production and transportation of goods to their use and disposal. Not only the goods consumed and emissions generated in Switzerland are taken into account here, but also those consumed and generated abroad. As opposed to this, the environmental impact caused by exported goods and services is not taken into account as this is not attributable to domestic consumption.

The ecological footprint adds up all of the land required for our consumption. This includes, for example, the agricultural land needed for food production and the land used for industrial production, roads and settlements. It also includes the forest areas we need to produce wood and absorb the CO2 emissions generated by the use of fossil fuels. To facilitate comparison on a global scale, the different land types are converted into average productive areas (global hectares or gha).

The applied methodology is constantly subject to scientific refinement. For the calculation of the agricultural footprint, the  Global Footprint Network (GFN) refers to the data of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and global average values for agricultural yields. These globally valid yields are considerably lower than the yields obtained in Switzerland in some cases.

The ecological footprint expresses, from the consumer perspective, direct land use, fishing in the wild, and the forest area (theoretically) required to compensate for fossil CO2 emissions in one number. The ecological footprint is not a comprehensive environmental indicator. The use of freshwater and other renewable and non-renewable natural resources and the loss of biodiversity or the environmental impact caused by air pollutants, heavy metals and persistent pollutants are not taken into account.

 
Last updated on: 18.11.2019

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