Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions increased by 3.6 percent in 2017, but if Sweden is to achieve the climate goals that have been set, emissions will need to decrease by 5-8 percent every year! Greta, 15, has been campaigning for the environment since the age of 12. When Sweden had a general election in September 2018, she thought that the politicians were
not talking or doing enough about the climate. So she went on strike from school for more than two weeks and sat outside Sweden’s
parliament building during the school day.
We do not only use more than what the Earth can produce, we also create a huge amount of waste that has to be dealt with. In rich countries, the amount of waste per person has multiplied over the past 20 years. How much rubbish does your home produce in a week?
And waste also includes carbon dioxide, the gas that is released into the air when we use oil, petrol and coal or burn rubbish and wood. Carbon dioxide is the waste that is increasing the most, and in Sweden carbon dioxide emissions make up a large portion of our ecological footprint. It contributes to global climate change, which is forcing more and more people to abandon places where they’ve lived all their lives. Drought and torrential rain, flooding, acidification of the oceans and/or rising sea levels mean they can no longer survive there.
Roughly a fifth of the world’s population accounts for over 80 percent of all consumption. Rich people have the biggest ecological footprints, while people living in poverty leave much smaller footprints. In many countries, there’s a huge difference between the ecological footprints of different people. In Brazil, for example, a child from an indigenous community in Amazonas leaves almost no footprint at all, while a ranch owner who has their own cars and boats, a mansion with air conditioning, a pool and a lot of electronics leaves an enormous footprint.
The world’s largest ecological footprint per capita is left by Qatar. The country has few inhabitants, but they are rich and contribute to substantial emissions of carbon dioxide by flying, driving cars and using air conditioning (it can reach temperatures of almost 60 degrees in the country’s desert climate).
By thinking about how your lifestyle affects the natural environment and climate change, you can create a large and important ecological handprint for a better environment. Small changes to your everyday life can have a big effect on your future and the future of others. It could be anything from not littering to saving water. Make your own handprint list of what you’re already doing and what more you want to do.