This year Earth Overshoot Day falls on August 13, as carbon emissions continue pushing the Ecological Footprint further above the planet’s annual budget, according to new data from the Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank.
Global Footprint Network tracks humanity’s demand on the planet (Ecological Footprint) against nature’s ability to provide for this demand (biocapacity).
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Earth Overshoot Day has moved from early October in 2000 to August 13 this year.
Australia continues ecological spending spree
Calculations by the Global Footprint Network show that Australia has the highest per capita ecological footprint of any major economy, and the biocapacity reserve that defined Australia for centuries is vanishing fast.
Global ecological overshoot leads to diminished resource stocks and waste accumulating faster than it can be absorbed or recycled. The consequences are dangerous climate change, water scarcity, food insecurity and ongoing wildlife declines.
“Australia has again been exposed as one of the world’s heaviest ecological over-spenders per person, which is most evident in the carbon pollution we generate,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
“Carbon pollution makes up over half of our ecological footprint, highlighting the need for decisive action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
“If Australia is to do its fair share when it comes to taking care of our planet and our most vulnerable people, and if we are to live within our ecological means, we need to introduce urgent measures that address our growing carbon footprint,” he said.
Stopping ecological overshoot is critical to aid efforts
Mr O’Gorman said global overshoot was both an ecological and an economic problem, with explicit implications for poverty alleviation and international aid efforts.
“There is a clear relationship between poverty, inequality, human rights and the need to stop deforestation, keep rivers flowing, keep oceans full of fish, and keep the climate stable and safe,” he said.
“As ecological overspending continues, more people around the world lose livelihoods that are dependent on vanishing natural resources, and face deepening levels of poverty as a consequence.”
Mr O’Gorman said if Australia was to properly address poverty in its region - as well as inequality, human rights and food security - it must help nations live within their ecological means, while supporting the innovation required for vulnerable communities do more with less, as natural resources decline and demands grow.
A new global plan to tackle poverty and safeguard the planet
In the face of declining natural resources, 193 countries last week agreed on a new draft plan to tackle poverty around the world, called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The plan calls on countries and their citizens to respect and safeguard the planet, and to recognise that sound management of natural resources is the foundation of economic and social development.
WWF-Australia called on the federal government to endorse the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the upcoming United Nations summit in New York next month, and to adopt it as a framework for the policies, priorities and performance benchmarks of the Australian aid program.
“For Australia’s overseas aid program to be effective it must directly address humanity’s continuing ecological overspending, and the subsequent vulnerability of lowest-income populations to resource scarcity,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“The loss of livelihoods associated with deforestation, the loss of protein associated with overfishing, the growing scarcity of fresh water resources, and the vulnerability of the poorest communities to climate change must be central considerations for Australia’s future aid efforts.”
For full details, see www.overshootday.org
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