Call for action ahead of Earth Overshoot Day
Policy-makers, experts, environmentalists and representatives of NGOs and companies discussed ways that can help reduce Slovenia's ecological footprint at a panel held in Ljubljana ahead of Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humanity's demand on nature exceeds Earth's biocapacity. This year Earth Overshoot Day falls on 2 August.
Earth Overshoot Day is a line "that we cross far too soon and that shows how unsustainable the path of our development is", Bojan Kumer, the minister of the environment, climate and energy, told the the hybrid event, organised by his ministry and the Global Footprint Network.
"However, this is not a reason for despair but rather a call to action," he said, noting that 60% of Slovenia's ecological footprint is 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 same 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," he said.
He listed measures taken by the government in the past year, such as the promotion of alternative fuels in transport and of devices that produce renewable energy. A climate bill that will provide a framework for further reduction of greenhouse emissions and greater resistance to climate change is also in the works.
Talking about reducing Slovenia's ecological footprint, he said 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".
Slovenia warming up twice as fast as global average
President Nataša Pirc Musar 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 keeping the warming of the earth's surface at 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era.
The president, who like Kumer addressed the event by video call, said 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".
She believes Slovenia needs more ambitious policies to adapt to and mitigate climate change. She urged "mustering 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 said.
Alessandro Galli, the director of the Global Footprint Network for the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa regions, also called for action. He noted that in the last five decades the size of the global economy 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.