Belgium exceeds its own biocapacity with large carbon footprint

Belgium exceeds its own biocapacity with large carbon footprint
Footprint in the sand. Credit: Jeremy Bishop at Unsplash

Belgium's carbon footprint is big: if everyone on the planet lived like the average Belgian resident, the planet couldn't support it. 28 July marked Earth Overshoot Day, which shows how the world lives on credit.

Belgium already exhausted all its own natural resources since 26 March this year meaning that it has lived on "credit" for four months, according to the international organization Earth Overshoot Days. Furthermore, Belgium hasn't reduced its carbon footprint between 1990 and 2019, according to a WWF report.

Despite these dire findings, Belgium isn't the worst climate culprit with a number of countries exceeding the 'overshoot' day before Belgium. These include Qatar (10 February), Luxembourg (14 February), Canada (13 March) and Australia (23 March).

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Yet despite Belgium's small size, it is a challenge to reduce its impact on the environment due to the country's difficulties in absorbing waste.

Belgium's biocapacity – a country's ability to produce resources and process the waste resulting from its consumption – is very limited, at 0.8 hectares. The average biocapacity per person in the world is at 1.6 hectares, making Belgium's carbon footprint is 8.5 times greater than its own biocapacity.

Reducing energy consumption is a challenge on many fronts. The sectors that consume the most carbon are agricultural production (21%) and transport, which accounts for 20% of the country's carbon footprint.

The WWF report suggests a number of steps that individuals can take, even if the challenge is global and needs government and industry action.

Eat for change

For individuals, it is worth considering where food comes from as importing food can result in deforestation and impoverishing the environment. It stresses the importance of reducing the consumption of animal products, particularly meat.

The report suggests limiting dairy consumption to three times per week, avoiding processed products such as sodas, snacks and alcoholic beverages and prioritising fruit and vegetables.

In terms of mobility, transport (including cars) accounts for 24% of CO2 emissions worldwide. Going green by swapping driving for riding a bike, a scooter or walking is helpful in lessening the harmful effects of CO2 emissions.

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