Green New Deal News

The World Starts Living On Borrowed Time

We are a day away from when our planet starts living on borrowed time. Earth Overshoot Day 2020 is August 22. This is the day when humanity has used all of our planet’s natural ecological resources and moves into overdraft. The costs of this global ecological overspending is seen in deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Humanity as a whole is currently using nature 1.6 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. That is akin to using 1.6 Earths.

According to the Global Footprint Network, 2020’s Earth Overshoot Day lands more than three weeks (July 29) later than in 2019. This new date is a direct consequence of the coronavirus-induced lockdowns around the world.

This shift in the year-to-year date of Earth Overshoot Day represents the greatest ever single-year shift since the beginning of global overshoot in the early 1970s. In several instances the date was pushed back temporarily, such as in the aftermath of the post-2008 Great Recession, but the general trend remains that of a consistent upward trajectory.” – Earth Overshoot Calculation Report 2020

“No business could survive operating in this kind of deficit. Neither can nature. Our health and well-being is directly linked to the health of our planet, so by protecting nature, we protect ourselves. This is our chance to build a better future, one in which we live in harmony with nature. Together, it’s possible to restore the balance between people and nature,” says Livia Esterhazy, WWF-New Zealand CEO.

While Aotearoa is tackling COVID-19 hard and early, we are not doing as well with our ecological resources. If the world lived like New Zealand, we would reach our Earth Overshoot Day on May 5th. It’s a shocking reminder that we can, and must, do better.

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. The #MoveTheDate Solutions Map invites people to champion existing solutions. Users can also connect with each other on the basis of geography and focus of interest, accelerating the implementation of new projects in the real world. 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.


About WWF-New Zealand

WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries and territories. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. We aim to do this by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF has been working in New Zealand since 1975.

Find us at follow us on Twitter @WWFNewZealand

How Earth Overshoot Day 2020 was calculated

Ecological Footprint data for more than 200 countries and regions

Footprint Calculator

Ecological Footprint: Managing our Biocapacity Budget (book)

About the Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint is the most comprehensive biological resource accounting metric available. It adds up all of people’s competing demands for biologically productive areas – food, timber, fibres, carbon sequestration, and accommodation of infrastructure. Currently, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel make up 60% of humanity’s ecological footprint. The Footprint Calculator enables people to calculate their own Ecological Footprint and their personal Earth Overshoot Day, draws more than 2.5 million users per year, and is now available in eight languages.

About Global Footprint Network

Global Footprint Network is an international sustainability organization that is helping the world live within the Earth’s means and respond to climate change. Since 2003 we’ve engaged with more than 50 countries, 30 cities, and 70 global partners to deliver scientific insights that have driven high-impact policy and investment decisions. Together, we’re creating a future where all of us can thrive within the limits of our one planet.

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