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Good lives don't need to cost the earth

Europe is less carbon efficient now than 40 years ago says new index of carbon efficiency and human well-being. 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 at delivering human well-being than it was 40 years ago.

The European Happy Planet Index: An index of carbon efficiency and well-being in the EU reveals for the first time the carbon efficiency with which 30 European nations produce long, happy lives for their citizens. The ranking reveals a very different picture of the current health and wealth of European nations. nef's analysis, published in association with Friends of the Earth, also looks back over the last 40 years and comes to surprising and 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 ?happy-life-years?. The Index reveals that Europe 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 to politicians is that people are just as likely to lead satisfied lives whether their  levels of consumption are very low or high and therefore they should not be afraid of policies to reduce demand.

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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