Earth Overshoot Day

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Dirk Knapen of ReScoop:

"Earth Overshoot Day passing by earlier every year. Last year it was on August 9th and just recently it passed for Portugal this year already. Upon asking the Global Footprint Network I was told that for Belgium ecological debt day was on March 13th. From that moment on Belgium started borrowing from future generations, stealing from nature and bullying other people elsewhere in the world. Hence large numbers of non-Europeans trying at high cost and risk of losing their lives to follow the flows of their common goods into Europe.

Passing Earth Overshoot Day means that there is no room for “growth” out of the crises (social, environmental, economic, financial, political,…) we are in without hurting other people and nature, now and in the future, in our regions and elsewhere in the world unless it is based on the one and only outside source we have…. the sun. In my view that means it can only be based on ecological food, renewable energy and materials we can grow (wood, cork, bamboo, straw, hemp, flax, wool, cotton,…). During their lifetimes as clothing, furniture, buildings, they will also constitute verifiable sinks for CO2. Sinks we might need very badly in future.

I think of this as harvesting values from the sun.

I think of harvesting because to harvest one first has to invest: prepare soil, seed, water, support, protect, nurture,…

I think of values because apart from the financial return, the gain for local communities can consist of resilience, self-confidence, peace, solidarity, generosity, kindness, abundance, social cohesion, local employment, security of supply, price stability, energy autonomy, healthier environment, reduced climate impact, … The pure financial gain, which under current energy prices and average per capita consumption would amount to about 100 € per inhabitant per month, can in no way compete with the other benefits.

This is nicely illustrated by the, even if not perfect, results of the small community of Güssing in Austria [1]. The 4000 inhabitants used to spend 6 M€ a year on the purchase of energy elsewhere. By now the community produces 13 M€ worth of energy from local renewable energy sources. This represents a value of 270 € per inhabitant per month. In the process the community created 1000 jobs and attracted 50 businesses.

With REScoop we are developing a support system that would allow small local groups of people to start up a cooperative, formal or informal, without necessarily having the capacities of developing projects to take initiative themselves supported by layers of support at the appropriate level (local, regional, national, international) with the appropriate offer (technical, organisational, legal, administrative, financial,…).

Since people are going to pay for the energy transition anyway as taxpayers, energy consumers or as money saver, they might just as well take control over the energy supply.

Energy cooperatives offer a third option in between - purely private and purely public

- large scale and individual

- 1% return on citizen savings and investor ROIs of 30, 50, 100% or more "

(email June 2015)