Recession should reduce Czechs’ relatively high “environmental footprint”, says scientist

Photo: Commission européenne

The Czech Republic ranks 14th in the world in terms of per capita “ecological footprint”, according to a newly released report from the World Wide Fund for Nature. Ecological footprint is a measure of how much mankind’s energy consumption exhausts natural resources. It includes carbon footprint, which is based on CO2 emissions, as well as several other factors. I discussed the study’s findings with environmental scientist Viktor Třebický.

“It means that at least in ecological terms, or in terms of impact on the environment, we are among the richest countries in the world and, I must say, the worst countries. We consume a lot of resources, mainly non-renewable resources. That’s why the footprint is so high.”

Is the fact that the Czechs are in top 15 in the world in terms of ecological footprint in a way good news, because it shows that the Czech Republic is a rich country and produces a lot?

“I wouldn’t say so, because you have other much richer countries like Holland or Sweden or even Germany, I mean richer in economic terms, that have a smaller footprint, because they try to, let’s say, reshape their economy in a more sustainable way. So I wouldn’t say it’s good news for us [laughs].”

Why is it so high here in the Czech Republic?

“I think the main reason is the structure of production of energy in our country, which is quite demanding in terms or carbon. We produce let’s say three quarters of our energy from coal, which is very bad in terms of carbon. And also we consume a lot of energy per thousand dollars of GDP. So our economy is still quite…demanding a lot of energy.”

What do you think is the future outlook for the Czech Republic in terms of ecological footprint?

Photo: European Commission
“These data we are talking about are based on 2005, when our economy was at its peak, GDP growth was at its highest. So I think next year and in the following two years we see a little bit of a decrease in the footprint, because the new data will reflect the economic recession. Definitely consumption of energy for example is going down. Maybe people will consume less. So I guess the footprint will go down a little bit, hopefully [laughs].”