Text: Anna Steindl, Kommunikation & Online Redaktion
2nd August – six days earlier than in 2016 – was the day on which humans had already consumed the Earth’s naturally sustainable resources for the entire year. In other words, we are consuming resources much faster than the Earth can regenerate them. For the rest of the year we are living on credit - at the expense of future generations.
Every year, the research organisation footprintnetwork.org calculates Earth Overshoot Day and provides data on the consumption of the world’s common resources. We are emitting more CO2 than the forests, soils and seas can absorb; we are felling more trees than can be regrown and catching fish at a faster rate than the ability of stocks to recover. Earth Overshoot Day is coming earlier every year; in 1987 it was the 19 December, in 2000 the 23 September and in 2012 the 22 August.
The lion’s share of the current Overshoot, i.e. our ecological footprint – comes from CO2 emissions (60%). In order to achieve the aim of the Paris Climate Agreement of limiting global warming to 2o Celsius, we would need to stop using fossil fuels by 2050.
Need for a second Earth?
If we convert the Overshoot to a global average, it shows that we need 1.7 Earths each year in order to satisfy our thirst for resources. Switzerland, Germany and France all consume 3 Earths per year. The highest levels are in Australia and the US, each consuming 5 Earths per year. In contrast, India only uses 0.6 Earths.
Reversal is still possible
If we could delay Overshoot Day by 4.5 days each year we would be living within the Earth’s natural limits by 2050. The Global Footprint Network also shows what we can do to delay the arrival of Overshoot Day. Avoiding food waste would save 11 days and a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions would save a total of 89 days (see also #movethedate). These are just two of the many ways by which each and every one of us can make a contribution.
The aim of the project “Sustainable consumption” with its travelling exhibition “CLEVER – playful intelligent shopping” is to make the Swiss people more aware of the importance of sustainable consumption and motivate them to take action.
To calculate your own ecological footprint, go to Footprint Calculator
The aim of the project “Sustainable consumption” with its travelling exhibition “CLEVER – playful intelligent shopping” is to make the Swiss people more aware of the importance of sustainable consumption and motivate them to take action. To calculate your own ecological footprint, go to Footprint Calculator