Czechs rank amongst world’s biggest polluters

Photo: European Commision

A study published by the World Wildlife Fund ranks the Czech Republic 14th on a list of states whose consumption levels outstrip environmental renewal. Environmentalists claim the Earth's natural resources are being depleted so quickly that within the space of a single generation "two planets" would be required to sustain current lifestyles. I spoke to Andreas Beckmann, Deputy Director of the WWF’s Danube-Carpathian Programme about the problem and the Czech Republic’s share of responsibility.

Photo: European Commision
“The WWF Living Planet report consists of two parts. The first part is basically a health check for the planet and looks at an index of species, the biodiversity of the planet. The second part is the ecological footprint of different countries in the world. That is compiled by a network of organizations called Global Footprint Network. And it’s basically compiled of a number of things, including the carbon footprint (CO2 emissions), the cropland used, the grazing land, the forest areas, fishing grounds and also built-up land.

How exactly do they measure the environmental burden?

Basically, what they are trying to do is to calculate the amount of resources that we use and also the waste that we produce. They calculate this in terms of a global footprint, that means in terms of hectares: how much forest land do we need to absorb the CO2 emissions that we produce or to produce the wood that we need to build our homes and so on.

Andreas Beckmann
The Czech Republic has ranked 14th. Why do you think that is? What is the main problem here in the Czech Republic?

“Obviously the Czech Republic is quite developed and it has been developing quite quickly recently so it’s a question of level of development and level of consumption, not so different from some of the neighbouring countries. But what is especially eye-opening in terms of the Czech Republic is the carbon footprint. The Czech Republic has a high level of energy use. About 60 percent of its total ecological footprint is made up of carbon emissions. And this brings us back to the fact that it is quite an energy intensive economy but also to the fact that this energy is to a considerable extent wasted.”

Do you also issue some kind of advice how to lower the consumption levels?

“Yes, the report is not just doom and gloom, it also carries a message of hope. The good news is basically that we do have the means to reverse this ecological credit crunch. WWF has put together a strategy for the next 50 years of how we can actually reduce the carbon emissions. It starts at increasing the energy efficiency of our homes, which includes some very simple things like replacing light bulbs, and that is not just about saving the planet or reducing emissions but its about saving money in the end.”