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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
UK cities' green ratings compared
tube trains
London's vast transport network reduces its environmental footprint
Changing the habits of people in the UK's cities is the best way to battle climate change, WWF has reported.

The environment group ranked 60 towns' and cities' environmental footprint, based on average consumption of food, goods, housing, transport and services.

The report names Winchester as the least green, with Plymouth and Newport having the lowest environmental impact.

On average, British cities are soaking up resources at 3.51 times the rate which the world can sustain, says WWF.

Resource usage

The report, based on research carried out by the Stockholm Environment Institute, ranked the cities of England, Scotland and Wales by the average ecological footprint of their residents.

This was based on the land and sea area a person would need for food, energy and resources and to absorb waste and pollution. The report did not compare the impacts of city residents with their rural counterparts.

Colin Butfield, head of campaigns at WWF, said people in British cities have the best chances of reducing their footprint and stopping the depletion of natural resources.

Figures denote number of planets needed to sustain resources used

"The battle for the environment will be won or lost in our cities," he said. "They have the highest potential for eco-living due to local facilities, public transport links, dense housing and shared public resources."

More than half of all Britons currently live in cities or large towns - a number that is expected to increase.

Alison Sutton of WWF said the aim of the report was not to malign Winchester, but rather to draw attention to what all urban dwellers can do to make significant change.

"Winchester has had a bit of a hard time of it when what we want to do is say every city in the UK can do more," she said.

Ms Sutton said that while wealthier cities may leave a bigger environmental footprint in some areas such as taking foreign holidays and buying goods, they also tend to have higher recycling rates.

If everyone had the same "footprint" as Winchester, 3.62 planets would be needed to sustain their habits, the charity said.

The commuter belt city of St. Albans was a close second, scoring particularly badly on transport due to the suburban reliance on the car.

Closer to home

Even the relative 'winners' in the green league table, Newport and Plymouth, would create the need for 2.78 planets to keep them going if everyone consumed resources at their rate.

Mr Butfield called on individuals to reduce their footprint by holidaying closer to home, insulating their homes and using public transport in addition to lobbying government and business for large-scale policy changes.

The battle for the environment will be won or lost in our cities
Colin Butfield
WWF

London had the second lowest transport footprint in the league, which WWF put down to the high usage levels of public transport, but the capital still ranked 44th in the table overall.

In Scotland, Glasgow had the least impact on the environment - equivalent to 2.89 planets - while Edinburgh had the most, at 3.2 planets.

In Wales the smallest ecological footprint was that of Newport, while Bangor had the biggest at 2.93.



SEE ALSO
Finding green in the concrete jungle
19 Jun 06 |  Science/Nature
How green is your High Street?
27 Jun 07 |  Business
Quick guide: Carbon footprints
03 Jun 07 |  Business
Global ecosystems 'face collapse'
24 Oct 06 |  Science/Nature

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