Are we beyond the limits of our planet? What are the main impacts of our consumption on the Earth systems? Which countries contribute the most to these impacts?

From a global perspective the situation is clearly unsafe for Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and Biodiversity Loss, and unsafe for Nitrogen Losses. The situation at the global is considered as Safe for Land Cover Anthropisation and Phosphorus Losses. While further research is needed, there is no evidence in the literature that the global limits are currently crossed for Stratospheric Ozone Depletion, Atmospheric Aerosol Loading, Freshwater Use and Chemical Pollution.

Climate Change

Global Status:
Demographic Share of Countries Overshooting
3.6x 
83 %
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​

Ocean Acidification

Global Status:
Demographic Share of Countries Overshooting
4.0x 
100 %
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​

Nitrogen Losses

Global Status:
Demographic Share of Countries Overshooting
1.2x 
not yet available
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​

Phosphorus Losses

Global Status:
Demographic Share of Countries Overshooting
0.7x 
39 %
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​

Land Cover Anthropisation

Global Status:
Demographic Share of Countries Overshooting
0.9x 
18 %
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​

Biodiversity Loss

Global Status:
Demographic Share of Countries Overshooting
1.3x 
63 %
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
clearly safe    safe    unsafe    clearly unsafe

We evaluate the environmental sustainability of countries in a long-term global perspective.

The performance of a country is computed by comparing its yearly uses of resources to its maximum ‘rights’. Rights to the planet resources are evaluated by assuming that past, current and future populations on Earth have, by definition, similar rights to resources.

The indicators have been selected to be compatible with the framework called "Planetary Boundaries". The Planetary Boundaries can be envisaged as the most promising alternative to the Ecological Footprint. The methodology to allocate the global limits to countries has been developed jointly by UNEP GRID-Geneva, the University of Geneva and the NGO Shaping Environmental Action in a mandate for the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment.

The application of the Planetary Boundaries framework to smaller scales (currently to regions and countries) provide new perspectives for environmental assessments.

In the future, it is probable that limits will be set for cities, economic sectors, corporations, products or technologies.

While Climate Change is the most known (and validated) global priority, other environmental aspects are potentially an issue. The Planetary Boundaries framework enables the identification and quantification of these environmental challenges. In the future multi-indicators assessments will very probably replace the current focus on Climate Change.

The conversion of problematic global limits to limits at smaller scales enables setting absolute science-based targets for everyone. Going beyond the current approach of relative targets, e.g. a 20% reduction, by applying similar metrics at any level enables true benchmarking and the identification of best actors and practices.

The first global evaluation offers insightful lessons. However, the approach is recent and needs improvement.

The here presented results have been computed based on the best available knowledge and public data at the date of the study (September 2015). Due to methodological and data limitations, we were able to compute six indicators (among ten) so far.

Both the Planetary Boundaries framework and the methodology for the allocation are however recent. While the interest by researchers and corporations for the Planetary Boundaries framework is manifest, a broad acceptance by the scientific community is still lacking and many discussions are going on about its feasibility. The methodology for the allocation has just been developed and has not been publicly discussed so far. Assuming that data is available, other rationales, e.g. social justice, rights or responsibilities could be applied for the allocation, providing potentially different results.



Look at the big picture !

Current results represent first estimates of the performances of countries with respect to Planetary Boundaries. Computations are based on international datasets included in world input-output models (WIOD and exiobase 2.0) which we complemented with additional sources and basic assumptions.

The overall perspective is assumed to be correct but errors could exist for specific countries. Results will be improved in the follow-up projects.