Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The European Happy Planet Index (New Economics Foundation)

The New Economics Foundation do valuable work on sustainability, in finding more accurate ways to define qaulity of life then GDP. There latest area of work is The Happy Planet Index, where they take a systematic look at wellbeing and how it corrolates (or dosent) to carbon emissions. They then look at how efficient the economy is at turning energy into wellbeing.

The most obvious thing that i noticed where the high scores for Norway and Sweden, countries that have traditionally done well in the qaulity of life studies. The UK, however, does poorly despite average GDP being the highest in Europe (correct me if i`m wrong).

Europe-wide research by nef (the new economics foundation), using a new measure of carbon efficiency and real economic progress reveals that Europe is less efficient today than it was 40 years ago. The European Happy Planet Index: An index of carbon efficiency and well-being in the EU reveals (overview) for the first time the carbon efficiency with which 30 European nations produce lives of different relative length and life satisfaction for their citizens. nef's analysis, (report) published in association with Friends of the Earth, also looks back over the last 40 years and comes worrying conclusions in an age of climate change, when it is more important than ever that we use our resources efficiently. nef's Index reveals that:
  • Europe as a whole has become less efficient, not more, in translating fossil fuel use into measurable human well being. The Index reveals that Europe as a whole is less carbon efficient now than it was in 1961.
  • Across Europe people report comparable levels of well-being whether their lifestyles imply the need for the resources of six and a half, or just one planet like Earth. The message is that people are just as likely to lead satisfied lives whether their levels of consumption are very low or high.
  • Iceland tops the Index. Scandinavian countries are the most efficient – achieving the highest levels of well-being in Europe at relatively low environmental cost with Sweden and Norway joining Iceland at the top of the HPI table. Iceland’s combination of strong social policies and extensive use of renewable energy demonstrate that living within our environmental means doesn’t mean sacrificing human well-being – in fact, it could even make us happier
  • The UK comes a poor 21st out of the 30 countries analysed, and nations that have most closely followed the Anglo-Saxon, strongly market-led economic model show up as the least efficient on the Index.

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