The pursuit of unlimited economic growth has led to an increasing and unsustainable overconsumption of energy, fresh water, forests and marine habitats, clean air and rich soil at the global scale. The ecological footprint from this overconsumption of energy and natural capital now exceeds the planet’s biocapacity by nearly 50 per cent (see Figure).
The planetary boundary for CO2 emissions has been set at 350 ppm*, but current levels are continuing to rise and are now approaching 400 ppm (NOAA monthly data on CO2). Through changing temperatures, precipitation and sea levels, amongst other factors, global climate change is modifying hazard levels and exacerbating disaster risks in some territories and sectors.
At the same time, the environment sector has been able to use the HFA to strengthen international and regional policy and to exert an influence on practice. Similarly, the climate change sector has generated important additional political and economic support and momentum.
*PPM = parts per million (the ratio of the number of gas molecules to the total number of molecules of dry air