Today is Overshoot Day, but Italy has been indebted to the planet since mid-May.

It will take 5.2 “Italy” to meet our need for nature, and Slovenia has committed to reducing its ecological footprint by 20% by 2030: it is the first EU country to do so.

(August 2, 2023)

Overexpenditure Day, which stands for Earth Overexploitation Day, has come early this year too: for the next 151 days, we will be indebted to the planet by destroying the natural capital that sustains the well-being of our society.

This means that it would take on average 1.75 planet Earths to keep human consumption in balance with nature; in Italy, however, things are decidedly worse, it is no coincidence that here in mid-May the day of Overshoot has already come.

This means that to satisfy our need for nature, we would need 5.2 “Italy” and, if the entire population of the world led our way of life, we would need 2.7 planet Earth. Which of course we don’t have. Therefore, we gradually impoverish our only inclination by living in debt to the planet.

Indeed, Overshoot Day compares the ecological footprint to biocapacity; the first measures how much biologically productive land is required to support the daily activities of the population, and the second focuses on the actual available production capacity within the country, as well as on the entire planet.

When the ecological footprint exceeds biocapacity, this means that human consumption destroys the natural capital available on the planet, that is, what guarantees us clean food, air and water, among other things.

In particular, just how we produce, transport, consume and, unfortunately, throw away food, accounts for almost 31% of the average Italian Ecological Footprint, while transport contributes another 25%.

“Too often we act in a way that shows that we do not yet fully understand the gravity of the situation,” explains Janez Potocnik, former EU Commissioner for the Environment and now Co-Chair of UNEP’s International Resource Group. “The current economic model is wasteful and unfair. This is not sustainable and the key question is how to efficiently and fairly meet people’s needs using less energy and less raw materials.”

The good news is that Excess Day can be significantly delayed by adopting a sustainable development policy. For example, an increase in electricity production from low-carbon sources worldwide from 39% to 75% will shift Overexploitation Day by almost a month (26 days), and food waste will be halved (which in Italy, according to UNEP, is 67 kg per capita per year). ). ) will earn another 13 days, while improving the quality of our lives.

It is no coincidence that Slovenia announced yesterday its intention to measure its ecological footprint and use it as a benchmark for sustainable development both nationally and regionally; it is the first EU country to do so, joining Ecuador, Japan, the Philippines, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

“Efforts to reduce Slovenia’s carbon footprint by 20% by 2030 will open up more opportunities for the country in a future marked by climate change and resource scarcity,” said Slovenian Environment Minister Bojan Kumer.

On a global scale, some progress has already been made over the past five years, with the day of exceedance remaining nearly stable (it fell on July 28 in 2022). But according to the Global Footprint Network itself, it is “difficult to know how much of that result is due to economic crises and how much is due to deliberate decarbonization efforts: in the former case, it would effectively be a matter of unsatisfactory declining growth. , only in the second, truly sustainable development.

In any case, improvements remain too slow: in order to achieve the IPCC goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 43% globally by 2030 (compared to 2010), over the next 7 years, the overshoot day must return by a good 19 days on an annualized basis. .

“If before the 1960s humanity was more or less in balance, the date shifted from year to year, moving up the calendar to be today at the beginning of August,” comments Eva Alessi, Head of Sustainability at WWF Italy. that humanity has been in a state of ecological overspending for more than 50 years and the debt we have accumulated is 19 years of planetary production, i.e. that the Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate in 19 years. The burden of this debt, which is set to increase, is beginning to reduce economic opportunities. Loss of biodiversity, increasing weather unpredictability and depletion of groundwater are just a few of the symptoms. But overcoming oneself is not inevitable. To live permanently beyond the physical limits of our planet is a time-limited possibility, we risk ecological catastrophe: the goods and services that underpin our societies and economies are produced by functioning and healthy ecosystems. We now have many targeted solutions to reverse the overexploitation of resources and support the regeneration of the biosphere we live in.”

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