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Posted on Dec 13, 12:20PM | IANS
China consumes an amount of natural resources equivalent to 2.5 times what it is capable of regenerating, the World Wide Fund for Nature said in a report on the "ecological footprint" of the world's No. 2 economy.
In the biennial report, the WWF said that because of its large population China "is consuming 2.5 times its biocapacity" even though its per-capita ecological footprint is below the global average.
Carbon remains the largest component of China's ecological footprint, having grown from 10 percent of the total in 1961 to 54 percent in 2009, the report said.
Only a small portion of that footprint comes from household consumption of fuel or electricity or use of gasoline for transport, according to the WWF.
The group's report also analyzed a dozen animal species in danger of extinction in China, noting that "although many are receiving top-level protection status, iconic giant pandas and Asian elephants are showing slow recovery rates".
The WWF cited poaching, human population growth, urbanization, infrastructure construction and global climate change as the main threats to endangered species.
The organization urged China, which depends on coal for roughly 80 percent of its electricity needs, to move toward a green economy and proposed that the nation "better define ecological redlines in specific areas, increase natural resource protection, and develop stronger policies that help improve biocapacity".
"China is at a turning point. The choices China makes today regarding consumption, production, investment and trade, and in managing its natural capital, will determine the country's future," WWF International Director General Jim Leape said.
"China is now the world's second-largest economy: choosing a sustainable development path is essential to China's ecological security and its people's wellbeing, but will also have a critical influence on global sustainable development," he said.