Earth Overshoot Day is a call to action, panel hears
Ljubljana, 1 August - Earth Overshoot Day is not a reason for despair but rather a call to action, Environment, Climate and Energy Minister Bojan Kumer said as he addressed an event in Ljubljana ahead of 2 August, when the global day is observed. President Nataša Pirc Musar meanwhile called for more ambitious policies for adaptation to climate change.
Experts, environmentalists, representatives of NGOs, companies and policy makers discussed sustainable practices and policies that can help reduce Slovenia's ecological footprint.
As Minister Kumer noted in his opening address to the event co-hosted by his ministry and the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day is a line "that we cross far too soon and that shows how unsustainable the path of our development is".
"However, this is not a reason for despair but rather a call to action," the minister said, noting that 60% of Slovenia's ecological footprint was carbon footprint, with emissions from traffic and energy consumption in households contributing the most.
For this reason, the sectors of energy and transport planning, which face the most challenges in terms of decarbonisation and could contribute to reducing the country's ecological footprint, have been brought under the auspices of Kumer's ministry.
"By taking action in these two sectors, we want to prevent this decade going to waste, and we still have a lot to do by 2030," the minister said.
Among the relevant government measures taken in the past year, Kumer noted the promotion of alternative fuels in transport and of devices that produced renewable energy. A climate bill that will set the framework for further reduction in greenhouse emissions and greater resistance to climate change is also in the works.
Regarding the goal to reduce Slovenia's ecological footprint, he said that by 2030 "we want to achieve a 20% reduction compared to 2013, and we monitor progress on an annual basis as part of national development reports".
President Nataša Pirc Musar, who also addressed the event via videolink, noted that Slovenia had reached its ecological deficit as early as on 18 April.
She pointed to scientific findings under which the current decade is crucial for reversing the trend of greenhouse gas emissions and thus halting the warming of the earth's surface at 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era.
The president said that the increasingly extreme weather events and natural disasters, witnessed on a daily basis, were a clear warning that "time is truly running out, Slovenia is warming up twice as fast as the global average".
Slovenia needs more ambitious policies to adapt to and mitigate climate change, she said, calling for a "strong and united political will for greater responsibility and effectiveness of the state in taking and implementing decisive steps against the climate, environmental and biodiversity crisis".
Rosanna Marie Neil, the chair of the Global Footprint Network, which collects data on countries' ecological deficit, said that Earth Overshoot Day marked the point in the year when resource consumption exceeded what the Earth could replenish.
"Earth Overshoot Day is not simply a statistic ... it reminds us that our future will be shaped by more climate change and resource constraints. Earth Overshoot Day is a call for a brighter future," Neil added.
Alessandro Galli, the director of the Global Footprint Network for the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa regions, also called for action, noting that in the last five decades the size of the global economy had significantly exceeded the biocapacity of the planet.
The discussion also heard Janez Potočnik, the co-chair of the International Resource Panel, argue that the existing economic model is wasteful and unfair.
It is not sustainable and the key question is how to efficiently and fairly meet people's needs with less energy and raw materials. It is a path that requires systemic changes, the former European commissioner for the environment said at the event, held at the Environment Centre in Ljubljana.