Key findings

(Please see the glossary for an explanation of the terms used)

In 2001, the South West residents' ecological footprint was 27.4 million gha (global hectares) or 5.56 gha per person.

The earthshare is 1.9 gha per person.

If everyone on the planet consumed as much as an average South West resident, we would need three Earths to support global resource consumption sustainably.

Resource flow analysis

In 2001, the South West:

  • Consumed 93,760 GWh of energy (including renewable energy).
  • Consumed 48 million tonnes of materials and products.
  • Manufactured over 17 million tonnes of finished products and consumed approximately 26 million tonnes of products.
  • Produced 6.9 million tonnes of food and consumed 3.4 million tonnes of food.
  • Generated 20.3 million tonnes of waste, nearly half a tonne of waste for every tonne of resources consumed by the economy.
  • Consumed an estimated 3 million megalitres (Ml) of water
  • Total physical land area was 2.3 million hectares (ha), of which 50% was grassland.
  • Residents travelled an estimated 56 billion passenger kilometres (pass-km), 82% by car and 5% by air.
  • Generated 27 million tonnes of emissions to air, of which:
    • 98% was carbon dioxide
    • 45% was associated with road transport.

Ecological footprint analysis

In 2001, in the South West, ecological footprints for:

  • Materials and waste were 10.4 million gha - 38% of the total ecological footprint.
  • Food was 8.0 million gha - 29% of the total ecological footprint - of which 77% was animal-based food.
  • Direct energy was 5.0 million gha - 18% of the total ecological footprint - of which 71% was domestic energy use.
  • Personal transport was 2.6 million gha - 10% of the total ecological footprint - of which 79% was car travel.
  • Built land was 1.3 million gha - 5% of the total ecological footprint.
  • Water was the smallest ecological footprint, 0.05 million gha, (<1% of the total).



  • Domestic energy consumption in the South West was 46,931 GWh with associated CO2 emissions of 12.6 million tonnes. The majority of this energy was for space heating and water heating.
  • It is not possible to reduce CO2 emissions from housing stock through new building strategies, but significant energy efficiency improvements to existing housing stock could reduce CO2 emissions by 4.4 million tonnes (35%) by 2015.
  • A person leading a low-impact lifestyle in a ZED Standard housing development would produce 3.2 tonnes of CO2 per year, compared with the UK average of 11.1 tonnes.
  • The target of 15% electricity from renewables by 2015 is achievable in the South West, but it will require significant new plant. A strategy of constraining consumption growth greatly decreases the requirement for new renewable electricity plant.


  • Municipal Solid Waste arisings in the South West in 2001 were 522 kg per person, and Commercial and Industrial waste arisings were 1030 kg per person.
  • To bring the waste ecological footprint to within the per person earthshare would require a 56% reduction in arisings to 227 kg per person for MSW and 447 kg per person for C&I waste, combined with significant diversion of the waste currently going to landfill.


  • The transport ecological footprint of the South West could be reduced by 26% by halving air travel and reducing car travel by 25%.
  • If all cars operated at the best fuel efficiency currently available, while still travelling current distances, the transport ecological footprint of the South West would be reduced by 50% and CO2 emissions would be reduced from 1083 kg to 392 kg per person per year.
  • A sustainable level of transport could be achieved by reducing car and air travel by 25% and 50% respectively, and switching all vehicles to hydrogen fuel cells, powered by short crop rotation biomass.


In 2001, in the South West:

  • Tourists spent an estimated £4,535 million.
  • Domestic tourists made 24.4 million trips to the region, and overseas tourists made 1.9 million trips, travelling 9.8 billion kilometres to and from the region.
  • Over 16,000 accommodation establishments were in operation, of which 60% were Bed & Breakfasts.
  • Tourist accommodation consumed 4,512 GWh of energy and 26,109 million litres of water, and generated an estimated 120,000 tonnes of waste