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Overshoot day WWF: Switzerland’s 2019 natural resource quota already used up

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If everyone lived like the Swiss, humanity would need the resources of three planets each year. 

(© Keystone / Alexandra Wey)

As of Tuesday, Switzerland has exhausted all the natural resources at its disposal for 2019, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The country is now living on credit.  

In a statementexternal link, WWF Switzerland said that May 7 marks Swiss Overshoot Day – the symbolic calendar date on which the country’s resource consumption for the year exceeds Earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources.  

The date is based on a calculation of the country’s ecological impact prepared by the Global Footprint Network; it also corresponds with findings of a study by the Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN), released last September.  

“On average, the Swiss population flies three times more often than European citizens, drives the largest cars in Europe and is one of the largest producers of waste in the world,” said the WWF.  

The environmental organization finds the Swiss produce on average the equivalent of 600 35-litre garbage bags filled with greenhouse gases per person per day. A sustainable society should produce no more than 30 garbage bags – 20 times less than today, it says.  

Globally, humans consume natural resources amounting to the equivalent of 1.7 planets per year. If everyone lived like the Swiss, humanity would need the resources of three planets each year. 

The FOEN study found the pressure on biodiversity increased by around 14% per person in Switzerland over the last twenty years. 

Threat of extinction  

The news comes a day after the release of a major report on biodiversityexternal link by the UN-led Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which found that one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, many within decades.   

It also found that human actions are responsible for “significant” changes to three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment. 

This is the first intergovernmental report on biodiversity of its kind and builds on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005.


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