Earth Overshoot Day creeps back to July 29

The modest gains from the pandemic-induced resource-use reductions were short-lived, highlighting the urgency of driving an economic recovery where all can thrive within the means of the Earth.

GLASGOW, United Kingdom, June 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Earth Overshoot Day 2021 lands on July 29, Councillor Susan Aitken, the Leader of Glasgow City Council, announced today on behalf of Global Footprint Network and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

To maintain consistency with the latest reported data and science, the Ecological Footprint metrics for all past years since 1961 are recalculated every year, so each year’s metrics share a common data set and the exact same accounting method. The annual dates of Earth Overshoot Day are recalculated accordingly. A true apples-to-apples comparison of Earth Overshoot Days can only be made using the same edition of the National Footprint and Biocapacity Accounts.

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

The date is almost as early as 2019, after being momentarily pushed back in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdowns. Notable drivers are the 6.6% carbon Footprint increase over last year, as well as the 0.5% decrease in global forest biocapacity due in large part to the spike in Amazon deforestation—in Brazil alone, 1.1 million hectares were lost in 2020 and estimates for 2021 indicate up to 43% year-over-year increase in deforestation.

“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,” said Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom.

Each year, Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth regenerates during the entire year. Humanity currently uses 74% more than what the planet’s ecosystems can regenerate—or “1.7 Earths.” From Earth Overshoot Day until the end of the year, humanity operates on ecological deficit spending. This spending is currently some of the largest since the world entered into ecological overshoot in the early 1970s, according to the National Footprint & Biocapacity Accounts (NFA) based on UN datasets.

In 2021 the carbon Footprint of transportation remains lower than pre-pandemic levels. CO2 emissions from domestic air travel and road transport are set to remain 5% below 2019 levels, while international aviation is expected to register 33% below, according the International Energy Agency (IEA). Global energy-related CO2 emissions, on the other hand, are projected to rebound and grow by 4.8% from last year as the economic recovery ignites demand for fossil fuels. In particular, global coal use is anticipated to jump in 2021 and is estimated to contribute 40% of the total carbon Footprint this year.

“Let Earth Overshoot Day be our call to arms,” stated Susan Aitken, the Leader of Glasgow City Council. “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. Let’s put our planet first and let’s #MoveTheDate together.”

View full press release in multiple languages 

How Earth Overshoot Day 2021 was calculated

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