France Reaches Overshoot Day, Exhausting Its ‘Nature Budget’

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

France Reaches Overshoot Day, Exhausting Its ‘Nature Budget’

May 5 marks overshoot day—jour du dépassement—in France with the country having spent all the resources that the Earth can regenerate in one year. France will live seven months “on credit” in respect to the planet’s resources.

This is approximately five months earlier than in 1961. The equivalent of 2.9 Earths would be necessary to meet the needs of humanity if everyone lived on the same carbon footprint as the average French person. The global average is 1.7 Earths, said the American NGO Global Footprint and its partner WWF.

“If all of humanity lived like the French, it would have consumed all the resources that the planet can renew in one year on May 5,” estimating that France could push back its “overshoot day” by 25 days to May 30 by 2027.

According to the NGO’s press release, “All the Fifth Republic’s presidents have allowed the country’s ecological footprint to deteriorate.” On average, according to their data, between 1981 and 2007, overshoot day advanced 10 days to the “outcome of each mandate.”

France ranks 97th for its ecological footprint, with greenhouse gas emissions represent more than half and which increased by 78% between 1995 and 2018, WWF pointed out.

Despite the fact “that France has already exceeded its nature budget for the year 2022” the “good news” is that “we are not condemned,” commented Isabelle Autissier, honorary president of WWF France.

Reviewing three possible scenarios, the NGO believes that Emmanuel Macron’s new five-year term “can reverse the trend” with “ecological planning” involving financing the transition in all sectors, with “more ambitious” objectives and measures. In particular, cutting the use of pesticides by 50 percent, supporting alternative transportation to cars and reducing the consumption of animal proteins by 20% while accelerating the development of renewable energies.

Every year, the Global Footprint Network calculates the world’s “overshoot day” by looking at the ecological footprint of human activities (the land and sea surfaces necessary to produce consumed resources and to absorb population’s waste) and the Earth's “biocapacity” (the ability of ecosystems to regenerate and absorb waste produced by humans, including CO2).

The Global Footprint Network index, which has been steadily deteriorating for decades (with the exception of the year 2020 with the covid pandemic crisis), illustrates consumption of an expanding human population on a limited planet. And it is also broken down by country. The world overshoot day last year was July 29.

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.