National overshoot day chart (Global Footprint Network photo)

Editorial: Canada consuming more than its share of Earth’s resources

July 29 earliest ‘Earth overshoot day’ in history, Canada’s overshoot day is even earlier

Monday, July 29, marked the earliest ever ‘Earth overshoot day’ in history.

Overshoot day marks the day that humanity uses more resources than the Earth can renew in a year. This is tracked by Global Footprint Network, an organization dedicated to measuring global environmental footprints and providing decision makers with policy alternatives.

While the global overshoot day was July 29, Canada’s overshoot day was March 18 – the sixth-earliest national overshoot day behind Qatar, Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and the U.S.A. If the world lived like Canada, humanity would consume the Earth’s annual resources by the third month of the year.

In response to this, the Global Footprint Network has launched a social media campaign, #MoveTheDate, to promote awareness and effect change around the world to try to push overshoot day back further and further toward sustainability.

Canadians, as a whole, are concerned with climate change. According to a CBC News poll, 19 per cent of Canadians listed climate change as the issue they worry about most. However, the primary issue is the cost of living, which was listed at 32 per cent. This leaves a situation where people are passionate about fighting climate change and worried about the impacts of it, but aren’t as keen to see more tax dollars directed that way.

There is a disconnect between Canadian ideals around climate change and Canadian action around climate change. The federal government recently bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion while at the same time working toward achieving Paris Accord climate targets.

Reports also indicate that the Liberal government may fall short of emissions targets set by the preceding Conservative government. According to a chart by Barry Saxifrage at http://visualcarbon.org, it will take Canada 215 years to reach 2030 Paris target at current pace, and nearly a thousand years to reach the 2050 target.

If Canada is serious about being a global climate leader, meeting Paris Accord targets, and committing to #MoveTheDate, there needs to be major changes in all aspects of Canadian society. Otherwise, Canada will continue to overshoot for generations to come.

For more information on overshoot day, visit overshootday.org

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