Earth Overshoot Day shows that humanity’s demand on nature exceeds what ecosystems can regenerate in a year. But there is a huge disparity of resource consumption among countries.
Each year the Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day to illustrate at what point in the year the global consumption of renewable resources exceeds the Earth's capacity. Greenhouse gas emissions are also included in the calculation, showing that global populations produce more greenhouse gases than ecosystems can absorb.
In 2018 and 2019, the Earth Overshoot Day fell on 29 July which means that humanity was using 1.7 times more of the natural resources than the planet can renew within one year. Since the early 1970s, humanity’s resource consumption has exceeded the natural capacities. Since then each year Earth Overshoot Day comes earlier.
Based on the data produced by Global Footprint in 2019, this year, the German Earth Overshoot Day would have been on 3 May. If everybody in the world lived like the average German resident, nature’s budget would already have used up. However, according to the Global Footprint Network, due to the worldwide measures against Corona Virus, the current ecological footprint deviates from this forecast. Calculations are currently being adjusted and the updated date for Earth Overshoot Day 2020 will be announced on 5 June.
Regardless of this small reduction of emissions in 2020, there is still an urgent need to reduce global resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The responsibility lies mainly with the industrialized nations. While in recent years Earth Overshoot Day fell in the first half of the year in most of the industrialized countries, the consumption of natural resources is much lower in the Global South. A large amount of the raw materials used in Europe are imported by regions in the Global South. Examples are the growing demand of palm oil or animal feed as drivers of the deforestation of rainforests.
While residents of Central America’s Dry Corridor produce only a small amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, this region is already hit hard by the impacts of climate change. For example, according to the previous calculations of the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day in Nicaragua would fall on 5 December 2020.
The #MoveTheDate campaign of the Global Footprint Network mobilizes for a more sustainable lifestyle and shows possibilities to minimize the worldwide consumption of resources.