People walk past an EU flag design umbrella on the ground near the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain - Reuters
Brussels (Reuters): The European Union’s 28 countries consume the Earth’s resources much faster than they can be renewed, and none of them has sustainable consumption policies, a report released on Thursday said, as EU leaders meet to discuss priorities for the next five years.
“All EU countries are living beyond the means of our planet. The EU and its citizens are currently using twice more than the EU ecosystems can renew,” the report by the World Wide Fund (WWF) and Global Footprint Network said.
The report comes as EU leaders gather in the Romanian town of Sibiu to set the course for the bloc after Britain leaves later this year.
Climate protection is among the priorities. But views on concrete action differ between countries, influenced greatly by their dominant industries.
“The EU uses up almost 20% of the Earth’s bio-capacity although it comprises only 7% of the world population,” the report said.
“In other words, 2.8 planets would be needed if everyone consumed at the rate of the average EU resident. This is well above the world average which is approximately 1.7 planets,” it said.
Climate protection and sustainable development is also one of the main topics in the election campaign for the May 23-26 European parliament elections that will influence the leadership of important European institutions and their program.
The European Commission has been pushing for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050 through reducing carbon emissions that will otherwise boost the Earth’s average temperatures with devastating consequences for the global economy and way of life.
The WWF report said the EU’s smallest and richest country, Luxembourg, was also the one which used up renewable resources the fastest. Just 46 days into the year, it had consumed its full share of the Earth’s resources, it said.
The EU’s poorest nation, Romania, took the longest to start consuming bio-resources on credit - on June 12th. But that was still earlier than the world’s average of August 1, called Earth overshoot day.
“If everybody in the world had the same ecological footprint as an average EU resident - emitting as much carbon, consuming as much food, timber and fibres, and occupying as much built up space - May 10th would be the date by which humanity would have used as much from nature than our planet can renew in a whole year,” the report said.
“For the rest of the year, humanity would have to live off depleting the natural capital of the Earth,” it said.