Paris, France | On Thursday, humanity will have used up all the planet’s resources: the “going further day” is back at the 2019 level, after a brief lull in 2020 linked to the health crisis, the US NGO Global Footprint Network warned.
“With more than five months to go before the end of the year, on July 29 this year, we will have exhausted the planet’s biological resource budget for 2021. If we need a reminder of the climate and environmental emergency we face, Earth Overshoot Day will take care of it,” said Susan Aitken, politician at Glasgow, the city that will host COP26 on climate in November, in a statement issued on Tuesday.
This indicator aims to illustrate the ever faster consumption of a growing population on a finite planet. To put it in a colorful way, it will take 1.7 Earths this year to meet the needs of the world’s population in a sustainable way.
History is calculated by crossing over the ecological footprint of human activities (the land and sea surface needed to produce the consumed resources and absorb the waste of the population) and the Earth’s “biological capacity” (the ability of ecosystems to regenerate and absorb human-generated waste, in particular to sequester carbon dioxide).
“Outrun” occurs when human pressure exceeds the regenerative capabilities of natural ecosystems. It has been expanding, according to the NGO, for 50 years: December 29, 1970, November 4, 1980, October 11, 1990, September 23, 2000, August 7, 2010.
In 2020, this date was postponed by three weeks under the influence of confinement linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s recovery is due to a 6.6% increase in the carbon footprint as well as a 0.5% decrease in the biocapacity of global forests “largely due to peak deforestation in the Amazon,” according to the NGO.
While the carbon footprint associated with transportation remains below pre-pandemic levels, that associated with energy is set to rebound significantly.
“This data clearly shows that recovery plans for the post-COVID-19 era can only be successful in the long term if they are based on regeneration and prudent management of environmental resources,” said Laurel Hanscom, CEO of Global Footprint Network. Cited in a press release.
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