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Special Issue "Ecological Footprint Indicator"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2010)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. John Barrett (Website)

School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Interests: low carbon futures; energy and economic modelling; climate policy; resource efficiency

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Ecological Footprint has emerged as an aggregated indicator of human appropriation of biocapacity. There now exists numerous policy applications from the approach. This special edition will explore both the successful applications of the Ecological Footprint along with a recognition of its limitations to policy assessment. Additionally, alternative approaches to the Ecological Footprint are welcome.
We invite you to contribute to this special issue by submitting comprehensive review or research articles.

Dr. John Barrett
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • ecological footprint
  • ecological overshoot
  • sustainable consumption and production
  • sustainability accounting
  • environmental limits

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Development of Ecological Footprint to an Essential Economic and Political Tool
Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 649-665; doi:10.3390/su3040649
Received: 19 January 2011 / Revised: 22 March 2011 / Accepted: 1 April 2011 / Published: 12 April 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (619 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper shows how the concept of the Ecological Footprint can be developed by incorporating the six procedures listed below, to create a single indicator of just distribution of the limited natural resources, between and within generations, and become a benchmark for [...] Read more.
This paper shows how the concept of the Ecological Footprint can be developed by incorporating the six procedures listed below, to create a single indicator of just distribution of the limited natural resources, between and within generations, and become a benchmark for decision-making between alternatives of consumption, life-styles and economic policies. Using this new tool, it should be possible to label every commodity, service and natural resource with the share it claims of the Earth’s surface. This, in turn, can enable the integration of natural limits into the economy through the complete internalization of costs within market prices, while also reducing resource throughput fairly and quickly without an undue loss in GNP. The six procedures are as follows: First, operating within the boundaries of the sustainable local yields of the biologically productive soil and water areas, without any input of non-renewable resources, particularly fossil fuels; Second, taking spatial variations of this yield into account; Third, considering only sustainable CO2-sinks; Fourth, including every exploitation of nature, for instance all material flows; Fifth, taking care of intertemporal effects and depletion; and sixth, preserving the natural habitats necessary for the survival of biodiversity, bearing the species/area relationship in mind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Indicator)
Open AccessArticle Is Eco-Efficiency a Sufficient Strategy for Achieving a Sustainable Development? The Norwegian Case
Sustainability 2010, 2(12), 3623-3638; doi:10.3390/su2123623
Received: 20 September 2010 / Revised: 3 November 2010 / Accepted: 21 November 2010 / Published: 24 November 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (176 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A split review of the environmental impact of Norwegian consumption and production over the last decade illustrates that rising consumption is eliminating the bonus of eco-efficiency in production. Two key drivers behind this situation are the large increase in person and goods [...] Read more.
A split review of the environmental impact of Norwegian consumption and production over the last decade illustrates that rising consumption is eliminating the bonus of eco-efficiency in production. Two key drivers behind this situation are the large increase in person and goods transportation and an increase in wealth that has allowed Norwegians to spend more on purchasing products and services. To achieve a sustainable development in rich countries, two major adjustments to the prevailing environmental policy are suggested: (1) The environmental impact of consumption should also be monitored as part of the official sustainability indicator monitoring system, e.g., by calculating the ecological footprint. (2) A specific consumption focus in environmental policy should be developed, beginning with the consumption categories with the largest footprint (volume) and the most negative development (change). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Indicator)
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Open AccessArticle Application of an Expanded Sequestration Estimate to the Domestic Energy Footprint of the Republic of Ireland
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2555-2572; doi:10.3390/su2082555
Received: 4 June 2010 / Accepted: 16 July 2010 / Published: 6 August 2010
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (179 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The need for global comparability has led to the recent standardization of ecological footprint methods. The use of global averages and necessary methodological assumptions has questioned the ability of the ecological footprint to represent local or national specific concerns. This paper attempts [...] Read more.
The need for global comparability has led to the recent standardization of ecological footprint methods. The use of global averages and necessary methodological assumptions has questioned the ability of the ecological footprint to represent local or national specific concerns. This paper attempts to incorporate greater national relevancy by expanding the sequestration estimate used to calculate the annual carbon footprint of domestic Irish energy use. This includes expanding existing study boundaries to include additional carbon pools such as the litter, dead and soil pools. This generated an overall estimate of 4.38 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year (t C/ha/yr), resulting in an ecological footprint estimate of 0.49 hectares per capita (ha/cap) The method employed in this paper also incorporated the potential role of grassland as a carbon sink. The caveat that the resultant value is dependent on the choice of study boundary is discussed. Including the lateral movement of carbon embodied in farm products (effectively placing the boundary around the farm gate) reduces the estimate of grassland carbon sequestration by approximately 44% to 1.82 t C/ha/yr. When a footprint calculated using an overall sequestration estimate (based on the distribution of Irish grassland and forestry) is translated into global hectares (gha), the standardized value is reduced by 35%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Indicator)
Open AccessArticle The Influence of Nutrients and Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions on the Ecological Footprint of Products
Sustainability 2010, 2(4), 963-979; doi:10.3390/su2040963
Received: 12 February 2010 / Revised: 12 March 2010 / Accepted: 29 March 2010 / Published: 7 April 2010
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (258 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The ecological footprint (EF) commonly neglects the influence of other stressors than land use and CO2 emissions on the land area required for human activities. This study analyzes the relevancy of including nutrients and non-CO2 greenhouse gases in the EF [...] Read more.
The ecological footprint (EF) commonly neglects the influence of other stressors than land use and CO2 emissions on the land area required for human activities. This study analyzes the relevancy of including nutrients and non-CO2 greenhouse gases in the EF assessment of products. The analysis was based on environmental information for 1,925 goods and services. Our findings suggest that within specific product categories, i.e., waste treatment processes, bio-based energy, agricultural products and chemicals, adding non-CO2 greenhouse gases and nutrient emissions can have a dominant influence on the EF results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Indicator)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview A Review of the Ecological Footprint Indicator—Perceptions and Methods
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1645-1693; doi:10.3390/su2061645
Received: 20 April 2010 / Revised: 11 May 2010 / Accepted: 1 June 2010 / Published: 7 June 2010
Cited by 64 | PDF Full-text (605 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present a comprehensive review of perceptions and methods around the Ecological Footprint (EF), based on a survey of more than 50 international EF stakeholders and a review of more than 150 original papers on EF methods and applications over the last [...] Read more.
We present a comprehensive review of perceptions and methods around the Ecological Footprint (EF), based on a survey of more than 50 international EF stakeholders and a review of more than 150 original papers on EF methods and applications over the last decade. The key points identified in the survey are that the EF (a) is seen as a strong communication tool, (b) has a limited role within a policy context, (c) is limited in scope, (d) should be closer aligned to the UN System of Environmental and Economic Accounting and (e) is most useful as part of a basket of indicators. Key issues from the review of methods are: (a) none of the major methods identified can address all relevant issues and questions at once, (b) basing bioproductivity calculations on Net Primary Production (NPP) is a promising approach, (c) advances in linking bioproductivity with ecosystem services and biodiversity have been made by the Dynamic EF concept and the HANPP indicator, (d) environmentally extended input-output analysis (IOA) provides a number of advantages for improving EF calculations and (e) further variations such as the emergy-based concept or the inclusion of further pollutants are not regarded as providing a fundamental shift to the usefulness of EF for policy making. We also discuss the implications of our findings for the use of the EF as a headline indicator for sustainability decision-making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecological Footprint Indicator)
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