Ecosystems can't keep up with China: WWF
China is now consuming more than twice as much as its ecosystems can supply sustainably, having doubled its needs since the 1960s, a new WWF report said.
China now utilises 15 per cent of the world's total biological capacity, said the report, which is published jointly by the World Wildlife Fund and the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.
The report found that the Chinese had an average ecological footprint of 1.6 hectares in 2003, the most recent year for which figures are available.
This means that each person needs 1.6 hectares of biologically productive land to support their lifestyle demands.
While this is still lower than the world average of 2.2 global hectares per person, it "nonetheless presents challenges, considering China's large population and the robust economic development", said the report.
"If China were to follow the lead of the United States, where each person demands nearly 10 hectares of productive area, China would demand the available capacity of the entire planet.
"This is likely to be a physical impossibility for China, and for the other nations of the world," said the report.
If on the other hand China could, in its development, also balance environmental needs, it could "lead the way for the world as a whole," the report added.
"It's a critical period in the coming 20 years for China to realise its sustainable development, which is determined by important indicators including the balance between the utilisation efficiency of natural resources and the Earth's regeneration capacity improvement," said Zhu Guangyao, secretary general of the Chinese council.