Ecology: May 5 marks Earth Overshoot Day in France. Why is it serious, how to react?

Every year the thinktank Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity has consumed the natural resources that can renew the Earth in a year. The calculation is also available on the France scale: this Thursday, May 5, marks the day we cross this red line. How to postpone Earth Overshoot Day in the future? WWF proposes a scenario to roll it back 25 days over the next five years.

Pollution Le Havre
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On credit of planetary resources

This Thursday, May 5, marks the day of the exceeding of our planetary resources in France. In concrete terms, this means that if everyone lived like a Frenchman, we would live the rest of the year in honor on earth. Globally, in 2021 Overshoot Day fell on July 29. France, as a bad student, therefore brings the planetary average down.

What weighs so heavily on our ecological footprint?

A number of elements must be taken into account. To calculate the ecological footprint, the Global Footprint Network integrates six factors: agriculture, grasslands, forest products, fisheries, land take and carbon footprint. It is this last factor that seems to most determine the ecological footprint of the French: our greenhouse gas emissions make up 57% of our total footprint. Agriculture now accounts for 18% and forest products for 12%.

WWF proposes action levers for the next five years

In this post-election period, WWF has envisioned a scenario that will apply for the next five years.

“When reading the latest IPCC reports, many believed we had three years to win the fight against climate change. No, we have three years to set in motion this colossal transformation that will preoccupy us for decades to come. †

Pierre Cannet, advocacy director of the NGO for 20 minutes

To delay the day of the exceedance in France by 25 days by 2027, WWF is relying on its “ecological planning” scenario. First lever of action: energy policy, in which a reduction in our consumption is accompanied by a massive development of renewable energy sources. We will then have to make a major change in the transport sector: it concerns the necessary reduction of road traffic and freight transport and the development of electromobility. To do this, we as consumers will have to be less greedy for goods. The development of short circuits would allow us to be more virtuous. Finally, WWF proposes a much more ambitious housing renovation policy.

While reducing greenhouse gases appears to be the main lever for action, WWF does not neglect the other aspects of our carbon footprint. In the food sector, the NGO proposes in particular to reduce the use of pesticides, develop organic farming or consume less animal protein. Another necessary step forward: halving the rate of soil artificiality by 2030.

A first step

This scenario would allow for significant progress, but some find it too ambitious. Indeed, in order to project ourselves on a viable future, it would be necessary to postpone the day of the transgression not to May 30, but to December 31. The everyday life of ecology reporter points out in an article published this morning:

“From there to saying that only decrease can save us, there is only one step… that the WWF does not cross. The association prefers to speak of ecological planning, fashionable terminology. †

Lorene Lavocat for reporter

reporter compares WWF’s scenario with that of the cabinet BL evolution published in 2019, proposing more ambitious measures.

Be that as it may, Earth Overshoot Day reminds us of a reality: To stop our slowing of ecological transition, we will have to outdo ourselves!

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