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The western world’s worst polluter? That’ll be the eco-saints of Denmark

A small mystery is contained in the day’s news. According to the 2010 Living Planet Index, just published by the World Wildlife Fund, human demand for the world’s resources has doubled since 1966, causing tropical wildlife to decline by 60 per cent since 1970, with the numbers of freshwater species in the tropics falling by 70 per cent.

The developed world consumes too much carbon, water  – resources generally.

The report refers to a revealing, nation-by-nation Ecological Footprint Index, which shows the countries who are most to blame for this grim state of affairs. Romping home at the top of the chart are the United Arab Emirates and Qatar: the resources of six Planet Earths would be required to keep us going if the whole world lived like the average citizens of those countries.

Which country is next after those somewhat unsurprising bad boys? The US? Kuwait? The UK?

It is, in fact, Denmark. The third worst environmental offenders in the world, the Danes would require 4.6 times the earth’s resources to survive. They are just ahead of America and almost double the UK, which rates 2.75.

Here is the mystery. Hardly a day goes by without our being told that the great environmental success story of Europe, indeed of the west, is that of… Denmark. They lead the world in wind energy. They boast that they will be free of fossil fuel by 2050.

Yet there they are, riding high with one of the biggest, dirtiest footprints in the Ecological Footprint Index.

 That’s a shock. The leaders of western world  when it comes to eco-smugness turn out also to be its worst environmental villains.