Beginning 1st of August, 2018, we will be living off of credit. This date marks the Overshoot day, meaning the date on which Humanity will have exhausted the resources the planet is able to generate in one year. The indicator, developed by the think tank Global Footprint Network, allows us to analyze the consumption of resources on a global level, as well as by country. While Energy Observer is currently navigating the Mediterranean Sea, which itself unites 23 bordering countries and 3 continents, one question arises: if all these countries today have to bear the consequences of climate change together, do they share the causes?
Each year the day of overspending makes it possible to highlight two salient realities of climate change: at the global scale, this date becomes earlier from one year to another, showing that the needs of the humanity have grown exponentially and disproportionately since the 1960s. Furthermore, an analysis comparing the national scale allows us to highlight the wide disparities between different countries globally regarding the responsibility of this increasing need.
France, No. 1 in the Mediterranean in ecological debt
In 2018, the date of France’s ecological debt was set on 5th of May. Thus, the French consume what nature can supply in 12 months in only 4 months. In other words, it would take planet Earth multiplied 2.9 times to provide for us if the whole world were to follow the French way of life.
“We have to ask ourselves: who do we borrow from? our neighbors? future generations? definitely both! But neither of them should be forced to pay this debt,” responds Victorien Erussard.
The difference between the French day and the global overspending is explained by the compensation provided by countries whose ecological footprint is not as high, or even in rare cases, is in excess. Among the coastal countries of the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco sets the example, with an overspending date estimated for 17th of December, over 7 months after France. In the global ranking established by the NGO, Morocco emerges as the second-least ecologically indebted country, while France was ranked 104th out of 143 countries.
Nicolas Hulot, Minister for the ecological and solidary transition has reacted himself on the social networks, by voicing an appeal for the general mobilization around the #MoveTheDate.
“We are all countries on the road to sustainable development”
The calculation method for the Overshoot day that combines several factors and compares many countries is sometimes contested.
But for Jérôme Delafosse, the Overshoot day allows us to put our finger on the huge discrepancies between countries and, above all, this indicator obliges us to change our paradigm: “Since the 1960s, Western countries have been perceived as the initiators of progress and development. The notion of ecological debt and the ranking it allows us to establish obliges us to look for new models and reminds us that, in the fight against climate change, we are all countries on the road to sustainable development.”
Morocco, leader of ecological transition in Africa?
The Kingdom of Morrocco, which hosted the COP22 in 2016, has made sustainable development a genuine social project, which is reflected in the implementation of a National Strategy for Sustainable Development.
From the energy point of view, the country has launched a green plan, with the objective of increasing the share of social and wind energy to 42% of demand in 2020 and to 52% in 2030, through an investment of 15 billion Euros.
“This strategy provides direction, and sets objectives to be achieved by all stakeholders in the country, whether public, private, or civil. We are curious to see how they face this challenge, and our stop in Morocco will provide us some insight.” explains Victorien Erussard.
In a few weeks, Energy Observer will stop in Tangier for a few days, in order to meet local agents of change. Some innovations that will be shown during the SOLUTIONS web series, which meets pioneers working to change the world, will be broadcast this fall.