This year's Earth Overshoot Day (also known as Ecological Debt Day) occurs on 22 August 2020 – about three weeks later than last year. Every year this day marks the date, when humanity has used up all the ecological resources and services the earth can regenerate in the course of that year. For the rest of the year, humanity exceeds the use of resources and services over natures budget.
The reason for this year's decline is not sustainable action, but the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the ecological footprint by 9.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. This is mainly due to the reduction of CO2 emissions – mostly caused by a significant decrease in the burning of fossil fuels.
"First of all, any reduction in emissions is positive for the environment and the climate. However, this only applies to a limited extent to the effects triggered by the pandemic. The positive effects must not hide the fact that a sustainable solution for efficient climate protection must be found urgently," emphasises Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Scientific Director of the Wuppertal Institute. "We must use the Corona crisis to tackle the necessary structural changes now, to invest in climate-compatible technologies and processes and to stabilise the promising behavioural changes triggered by the pandemic, particularly in the transport sector, by means of flanking measures".
Every Year, the international research organisation Global Footprint Network hosts and calculates the Earth Overshoot Day based on the ecological footprint. It measures the ecological assets that a given population requires to produce the natural resources it consumes and to absorb its waste, especially carbon emissions. The research institute also calculated the impacts of the Corona pandemic and formed reasonable assumptions estimating the current resource situation of humanity. For that, the Global Footprint Network evaluated changes in carbon emissions, forest harvest, food demand, and other factors that could impact the global biocapacity or the ecological footprint.
As part of the digital European launch of the Earth Overshoot Day, the Club of Rome produced a series of video statements. In his video message, Manfred Fischedick makes clear: "This year will show whether the goals of the Paris Agreement and its limitation of the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels can be met at all."
In addition, Prof. Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Founding President of the Wuppertal Institute, and Prof. Dr. Mojib Latif, President of the German Association Club of Rome, also participated with a video statement.
Further information on the Earth Overshoot Day can be found in the links below.