The Netherlands has already used up all raw materials and energy for this year
By: André Oerlemans
Wednesday, April 12, the Netherlands has used as much energy and raw materials as we could use all year to keep the earth habitable. It is officially called Dutch Overshoot Day.
If everyone on earth lived like the Dutch, we would need 3.6 earths, the Global Footprint Network has calculated. It uses data and statistics from the UN, the Global Footprint Network and York University in Canada. This involves looking at what someone uses in terms of food, energy and raw materials, compared to what the earth can produce in a year and how much emissions forests and oceans can absorb. That is called the bio-capacity. The ecological footprint of the Netherlands is more than seven times as large as the Dutch bio-capacity.
Living on credit
Like many other Western countries, the Netherlands lives on credit: we are overburdening the earth. This overexploitation of the planet creates problems such as climate change, the nitrogen crisis and the loss of biodiversity. The Netherlands consumes considerably more raw materials and energy than the average in the world. For example, in Jamaica, Indonesia or Ecuador, the overshoot day does not fall until December. In the US, Canada, Australia and Belgium as early as March. Earth Overshoot Day, the day the world exceeds the limit of its carbon footprint, falls on July 27 this year.
Date later due to climate policy
The overshoot day falls earlier every year in the Netherlands. In 1971 it fell on December 25, in 2000 already on September 25. However, if the Netherlands implements its climate policy and its plans for sustainable agriculture and a circular economy, the day in 2030 could be pushed back to the end of June. If CO2 emissions are reduced by 55 percent, the overshoot day in 2030 will be no less than 32 days later. Allowing all vehicles to drive electrically saves 18 days. Eating half less meat in 2030 will yield two weeks of profit. Reuse half of the waste for another 10 days and half less food waste for 7 days. In addition, the Netherlands can increase its bio-capacity by, for example, cultivating bio-based materials that can replace oil and cement for chemicals and construction, or through regenerative agriculture.
Jets: learning from mistakes
It is clear that the ecological footprint of the Netherlands is now too large. Minister Rob Jetten of Climate and Energy also recognizes this. “We are running into planetary limits in this small country, that much is clear. That is why the government is working hard to bring the impact of our economy more into balance with climate and the environment. Climate policy plays a central role in this, but it is also important to take a broader view. It is crucial that we learn from mistakes from the fossil past and tackle the conversion of our economy to a sustainable economy in one go, with respect for issues such as climate, nature, human rights and the environment,” he says.
I just saw their article on their energy projections for 2050, and this clearly shows why urgent action is needed.