The environmental impacts of consumption at a subnational level: the ecological footprint of Cardiff

A. Collins, A. Flynn, T. Wiedmann, J. Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes the environmental effects of resource consumption at a subnational level (by Cardiff, the capital city of Wales), using the Ecological Footprint as a measure of impact assessment. The article begins by providing a short critique of the Footprint methodology and the limitations of methods traditionally used to calculate national Footprint accounts. We then describe the Footprint methodology developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute to overcome some of these problems and used as the basis of the Reducing Wales' Ecological Footprint project, of which the Cardiff study has been a part. The main portion of this article focuses on presenting and discussing the Footprint results for Cardiff. The Ecological Footprint of household consumption in Cardiff will be presented using the international Classification of Individual Consumption According to Purpose (COICOP). Based on the results, we found that the areas of consumption that are a priority for Cardiff in terms of reducing resource use are food and drink, passenger transport (car and aviation), domestic fuel consumption, waste, and tourism. We also discuss how these findings have been presented to the Cardiff Council. We report on the initial reactions of policy officers to the Footprint results and how the Council plans to use them to influence policy decisions relating to sustainability. Finally, in the Conclusions section, we briefly explain the value of applying the Ecological Footprint at a subnational level and its value as an evidence-based tool for sustainability decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-24
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006

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