Earth Overshoot Day in 2020 lands on August 22. The date, which is calculated by Global Footprint Network (GFN), marks the moment in any given year where our demand exceeds what the Earth is able to offer. So from this date, this means that until the end of the year, the global economy is operating in “ecological deficit”.
However this year, the date has come almost a month after the 2019 Overshoot Day, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GFN says the coronavirus outbreak has caused humanity’s “ecological footprint” to fall by 9.3 per cent this year, as people around the world were forced into lockdown.
In fact, Earth Overshoot Day has not been this late in the year since 2005.
But GFN President Mathis Wackernagel said the result was “not something to celebrate”, adding: “It’s not done by design, it’s done by disaster.”
Earth Overshoot Day 2020: How is Overshoot Day calculated?
Earth Overshoot Day 2020: Earth Overshoot Day in 2020 lands on August 22
How is Overshoot Day calculated?
The GFN bases its calculations on humanity’s ‘footprint’ by assessing carbon, forests and food.
So the GFN looks at our demand for food and energy, alongside what is needed to absorb global CO2 emissions.
The GFN explains: “ To determine Earth Overshoot Day, one needs to calculate the ratio between the Earth’s ability to generate resources, or its biocapacity, and humanity’s demands placed upon nature, its Ecological Footprint.
“All demands on nature compete for biocapacity: sequestration capacity for CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, demand for food and fiber, energy production (from hydropower to biomass), space for roads and shelters, etc.
“Both biocapacity and Ecological Footprint can be tracked and compared against each other, based on two simple principles:
1. All the competing demands on productive surfaces, i.e., the surfaces that contain the planet’s biocapacity, can be added up
2. By scaling these areas proportional to their biological productivity, they become commensurable.
“The measurement unit used is ‘global hectare’ which is a biologically productive hectare with world-average productivity.”
Earth Overshoot Day 2020: The GFN looks at our demand for food and energy
This year, the forest products footprint is down 8.4 percent, while the carbon footprint is down 14.5 percent.
The GFN said: “Carbon emissions data from the International Energy Agency forms the basis of the ‘COVID-19 carbon-adjustment’ to Earth Overshoot Day.
“The pre-Earth Overshoot Day period was divided into three segments for accurate assessments.”
The Earth’s foot print remained unchanged.
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Earth Overshoot Day 2020: The GFN bases its calculations on humanity’s ‘footprint’
Researchers also assign each individual country an overshoot date.
So for example, if ever country consumed in the same way as the USA, the global OvershootDay would be held much earlier – on March 14 this year.
If everyone consumer like the UK, the date would be May 16.
On the other end of the scale, Indonesia has the longest year before the overshoot – with their date being Decemeber 18.
While Egypt’s Overshoot Day would be on November 25.
What date was Earth Overshoot Day in 2019?
Last year, Earth Overshoot Day took place on the earliest day yet – July 29.
Speaking at the time, former secretary-general of NATO Javier Solano said: “The earliest ever Earth Overshoot Day is a stark reminder of how much we demand from our planet, and of the unprecedented energy transition required to combat global warming.”
While Chile’s Minister of Environment and chair of the Climate COP25, María Carolina Schmidt Zaldívar said: “With Earth Overshoot Day occurring ever earlier in the year, the importance of decisive action is becoming ever more evident.”
And despite thi’s year’s date being more than three weeks later, Mr Wackernagel stressed that humanity is still living beyond its means.
At the current rate of consumption, we would need 1.6 Earth’s to satisfy demand. And that demand is only growing.
Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, called for governments to “decouple” economic growth from environmental degradation, saying: “It shouldn’t really take a global pandemic to make us manage more sustainably the resources of the planet.”
Maxime Renaudin, founder of Tree Nation, added: “We hope that now we are on the road to recovery, governments will once again prioritise the urgent need to prevent climate change.”