The year-on-year slowdown of Earth Overshoot Day’s forward charge is a false dawn – consistently driving back this milestone is what constitutes success, says Chris Williams, founder and CEO of ISB Global

August 2nd marks this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, the day on which humanity’s use of the planet’s resources exceeds its ability to regenerate in the year. The current deficit is caused by both our depletion of natural resources and by the emissions and other waste we create.

Earth Overshoot Day has shot forwards since calculations began, falling on Christmas Day in 1971 and August 5th 40 years later. Although the rate of progression has slowed in the last decade, Williams argues this does not represent progress, stating that structural change is required to reverse the damage of the past 50 years.

Calculated by the Global Footprint Network, Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity by humanity’s demand for resources that year, and multiplying the answer by 365.Williams commented, “The decisions we make for our personal, national and global energy use and waste management can help to move Earth Overshoot Day back.

“Nationally, it means businesses and government organisations thinking about how we design and run services. How we integrate better, cleaner modes of transport and how we support communities to live and work more sustainably. We also need to pay attention to the state of nature – preserving wild spaces, reintroducing helpful flora and fauna, promoting biodiversity and reversing the damage done by activities such as over-fishing.

“Globally, it means working together to reduce land loss for farming or other food production, supporting nations who are most at risk from climate change, and committing to and working towards the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals.”

Williams concluded, “The waste and recycling industry has a key role to play in efforts to push back Earth Overshoot Day. Organisations should support commercial customers in their own sustainability endeavours and show public authorities how waste can be addressed positively and profitably.”


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