Australian Cities: Worst Environmental Offenders

Australian Cities: Worst Environmental Offenders

Australia’s major cities (Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane) are the worst environmental offenders on the planet. Each Australian city resident is, on average, requiring six to seven global hectares of land and water to support their current lifestyle, whereas the global ecological footprint is, on average, less than three hectares per person.

The research of Professor Peter Newton, at Swinburne University of Technology, revealed that the world’s most liveable cities are acquiring and maintaining their status by consuming resources at a rate which is ecologically unsustainable. If the entire population on Earth aspired to the lifestyle offered to a resident of, for example, Melbourne then two and a half earths would be required to supply the subsequent demand on resources – as things currently stand.

Three quarters of Australian residents live in major cities contributing 80% of Gross Domestic Product and employing 75% of the workforce. Nearly two-thirds of small and medium sized businesses and nearly 80% of large corporations are found in the major cities.

A key finding of this research is that higher environmental impacts, at the household level, are associated with higher incomes and smaller household sizes. Therefore, despite the opportunities for efficiency and reduced environmental impacts offered by more compressed forms of urban living, inner city households of capital cities feature the highest consumption of water, energy use and ecological footprints.

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