Decarbonisation can delay ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ by three weeks


By 29 July, we used ‘nature’s resource budget’ for the entire year, says the Global Footprint Network. The date has moved up by a full two months over the last 20 years and today is the earliest date ever.

However, a whitepaper by Schneider Electric and the Global Footprint Network shows that if “100% of the existing building and industry infrastructure were equipped with available energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, the date of Earth Overshoot Day would move back by 21 days at least.”

Earth Overshoot Day marks the day when human demand for food, fibre, timber, and carbon absorption (global Ecological Footprint) exceeds the number of biological resources that earth’s ecosystems can renew in the whole year (global biocapacity).

The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events.

We are currently using the planet’s resources 1.75 times faster than nature can renew, creating a four-month deficit over the year – carbon emissions make up 60% of the total ecological footprint.

Related Stories:
-Read more on the decarbonisation of the energy industry,
-Researchers develop model to map global power plant emissions
-Enel joins 2050 global net-zero commitment

Moving the date of Earth Overshoot Day back 5 days each year would allow humanity to reach one-planet compatibility before 2050. Solutions that #MoveTheDate are available and financially advantageous. Significant opportunities are to be found in five key areas: cities, energy, food, population, and planet.

For instance, cutting CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning by 50% would #MoveTheDate by 93 days.

Recommendations included in the whitepaper aims to delay Earth Overshoot Day to December 31 or beyond.

The recommendations include:

  1. Decarbonisation of energy networks. Cutting global carbon emissions in half would move the date by three months, according to the whitepaper.
  2. Energy retrofits alone could delay the day by three weeks.
  3. If the day is moved back by five days every year, we will be back to one-planet compatibility before 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

“One-planet compatibility has to become a new measurement of how a given business strategy helps society, or not, move the date of Earth Overshoot Day,” said Xavier Houot, senior vice president Global Safety, Environment, Real Estate at Schneider Electric.

“Such a metric forces the adoption of an outside-in lens and introspect: ‘does our business operate within one-planet constraints and boundaries?’ and ‘do our offers tangibly help our customers move out of ecological overshoot?’. If the answers are positive, long-term prosperity is much more likely. Being part of the solution carries increasingly more weight in the eyes of investors, markets, and today’s workforce.”

The white paper “The Business  Case for One-planet Prosperity,” is available for download here…