Fossil Fuels Are Biggest Part of Global Ecological Footprint

By today, humankind will have used up its allowance of natural resources such as water, soil and clean air for the whole of 2019, according to the international research organization Global Footprint Network.

Known as Earth Overshoot Day, this marks the date when humanity’s annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate in that year.

The carbon footprint from burning fossil fuel is the fastest growing part of humanity’s global ecological footprint – accounting for 60% of the total.

This points to the urgent need for ambitious climate action to slash carbon emissions and to keep the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, in line with the goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

In recent months, the impacts of climate change, including more intense floods, droughts, storms and heatwaves have been felt around the world, with Europe having just experienced some of the hottest temperatures on record.

Commenting on today’s milestone, Carolina Schmidt Chile’s Environment Minister and incoming President of the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 taking place in Chile in December, said:

”With Earth Overshoot Day occurring ever earlier in the year, and a big part of it being due to the growing amounts of CO2 emissions, the importance of decisive action is becoming ever more evident.”

As the graphic below shows, Earth Overshoot Day has moved up by two months over the past 20 years and this year’s date is the earliest ever. It means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate, equivalent to 1.75 Earths.

Accelerate solutions to #MoveTheDate

If we #MoveTheDate of Earth Overshoot Day back 5 days each year, however, humanity would reach one-planet compatibility before 2050. Solutions that #MoveTheDate are already available, with significant opportunities to be found in five key areas: cities, energy, food, population and planet. For instance, cutting CO2emissions from burning fossil fuels by 50% would #MoveTheDate by 93 days.

Global Footprint Network recently launched a #MoveTheDate Solutions Mapa social platform inviting people to champion existing solutions. Users can connect with each other geographically and by focus area, accelerating the implementation of new projects in the real world.

The #MoveTheDate Solutions Map is designed to complement the Footprint Calculator, which enables people to calculate their own Ecological Footprint. It draws more than 2.5 million users per year and is now available in eight languages, Hindi, English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian.

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