Living like France needs 2.9 Planet Earths

We would need 2.9 Planet Earths if everyone lived like France around the world, the group calculated

An ecological think tank has calculated that if everyone on Earth lived like France does, we would need 2.9 planets per year, and would have run out of a year’s worth of natural resources by this weekend.

In a bid to raise awareness of our use of natural resources, think tank the Global Footprint Network worked with non-governmental organisation WWF-France to calculate the exact date in the year representing when our planet would “run out”, and when the ecosystem would reach its limit for CO2 absorption - if everyone lived like France.

The date this year - named "Overshoot Day" - was calculated at May 5, one day earlier than in 2017.

graphic of the Earth with certain dates picked out
The Global Footprint shows France runs out of its natural resources on May 5, two days before the UK... but Qatar ran out on February 2

The two groups joined together to highlight the issue, and in last March launched a study of France, considering the problem by country, and by town.

The country’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are significant, representing 56% of France’s carbon footprint, according to WWF-France, with two-thirds coming from housing, transport, and food production.

Pascal Canfin, general director of WWF-France and former minister for development, said: “This is the first time that we have done this exercise for France, to show the unsustainability of our development model.”

He added that the country’s “ecological footprint and carbon footprint have deteriorated” in recent years “as a result of a drop in oil prices that has encouraged an increase in fuel consumption”.

The group will now use its study to help lobby on current issues, including laws on food, mobility and energy use.

Pierre Cannet, manager of climate and energy at WWF-France, said: “Decisions have to be made by the government, so now is the time to act to push forward this ‘run out’ date. [We do not need] cosmetic changes, but the creation of a new development model.”

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