Earth Overshoot Day to fall earlier than last year, campaigners warn

Humans will have used up our quota of the earth’s biological resources by late July, almost a month earlier than last year, campaigners have warned.

The Global Footprint Network has calculated that this year’s Earth Overshoot Day will fall on July 29, several weeks sooner than last year when it fell on August 22.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has used all the natural resources that earth regenerates during the entire year.

Campaigners said that this year’s date is almost as early as 2019, when it fell on July 26, after being momentarily pushed back in 2020 by lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Ahead of the Cop26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow, campaigners said that leaders must “put the planet first” as part of post-Covid recovery plans.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, announced the date of Earth Overshoot Day on behalf of the Global Footprint Network and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

She said: “With almost half a year remaining, we will already have used up our quota of the Earth’s biological resources for 2021 by July 29.

“If we need reminding that we’re in the grip of a climate and ecological emergency, Earth Overshoot Day is it.”

She added: “Let Earth Overshoot Day be our call to arms. 

“In November the eyes of the world will be on Glasgow, host of Cop26, the climate summit that needs to make the decisions that will deliver our planet on a safer and more sustainable future.

“We’ve got the opportunity here in Glasgow to show the world what we’re doing, coalescing together as a city to show real change, to respond to the climate and ecological emergency.

“Let’s put our planet first and let’s #MoveTheDate together.”

This year the carbon footprint from transportation remains lower than pre-pandemic levels with CO2 emissions from domestic air travel and road transport set to remain 5% below 2019 levels and international aviation expected to register 33% below, according the International Energy Agency (IEA).

However global energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to rebound and grow by 4.8% from last year as the economic recovery ignites demand for fossil fuels, while global coal use is anticipated to jump in 2021 and is estimated to contribute 40% of the total carbon footprint this year.

Global Footprint Network chief executive Laurel Hanscom said: “As the UN Decade of Ecosystems Restoration is launched on World Environment Day, June 5, this data makes abundantly clear that recovery plans in the post-Covid 19 era can only be successful in the long term if they embrace regeneration and ecological resource-efficiency.”

Campaigners said that humanity currently uses 74% more than what the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate and from Earth Overshoot Day until the end of the year it operates on “ecological deficit spending”.

Notable drivers of this year’s early date are the 6.6% carbon footprint increase over last year and the 0.5% decrease in global forest biocapacity due in large part to a spike in Amazon deforestation.

Sepa chief executive Terry A’Hearn said: “In November, as a weary world turns its attention to Scotland and Cop26, together we can choose one-planet prosperity over one-planet misery.

“We can and must build from the pandemic, our global ability to plan, to protect and move at pace.

“Scottish innovation helped lead the Industrial Revolution; in 2021, the Glasgow summit and the future we choose as each community, city, company or country, offers real hope for a new net-zero revolution.”