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Earth Overshoot Day moves back in 2020 as restrictions provide environmental benefits

Sydney Nouvelle-Galles du Sud, Australie


  • Earth Overshoot Day 2020 (Aug 22) has moved back three weeks since last year due to impact of restrictions on travel and reduced fuel usage
  • Schneider Electric and Global Footprint Network are offering guidance to businesses interested in helping to ensure the date keeps moving back by design
  • Partnership aims to help build one-planet compatible business success and create a sustainable future by design.

Arriving on August 22, Earth Overshoot Day 2020 comes more than three weeks later than last year – a direct result of the lockdowns and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global benefit of this unexpected and sudden reduction in humanity’s activities is that our ecological footprint (the global consumption of renewable resources) has reduced by about ten percent. Carbon emissions dropped 14.5 percent and the harvesting of forest products harvest reduced by eight percent.

The slow down in construction, travel bans and reduced fuel consumption has proven that through proactive and collective measures there is a real opportunity to reverse the course of the world’s resource consumption.

The date of Overshoot Day is calculated by international sustainability think tank, the Global Footprint Network, which has partnered with Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, to promote ways in which the date can be pushed back to December 31.

According to the Network’s calculations, the main factors in unsustainability are inefficient energy and fuels use, deforestation, depletion of soils and water, and inappropriate resource extraction.

"Between January 1 and August 22, humanity will have used as much from nature as the planet can renew in the entire year," says Gareth O’Reilly, Pacific Zone President of Schneider Electric.

“Humanity uses as much ecological resources as if we lived on 1.6 planets, yet we only have one,” he said. “We need to operate our businesses more efficiently and sustainably so we can live within the ecological means of the Earth”.

To ensure this year’s change in the date of Overshoot Day isn’t just transitory, Schneider Electric  and Global Footprint Network have created a guide for businesses to help generate long-term, planet-friendly success. See e-book here: Strategy for One-planet Prosperity: How to build lasting business success on a finite planet

Their joint e-book “Strategies for One-Planet Prosperity” presents the framework for companies to play a key part in shifting the dial. The research indicates that if all of the existing buildings and industry infrastructure around the world were equipped with readily available energy efficiency and renewable energy technology from Schneider Electric and its partners (assuming no shift in human habits), the date of Earth Overshoot Day could move back by at least 21 days.

This means that energy retrofits alone could make a difference of three weeks. If we move Earth Overshoot Day back by five days every year, we will be back to one-planet compatibility before 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Some of Australia’s biggest organisations have already taken steps to help support this goal. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the country’s largest stadium, has introduced Schneider’s cloud based utility monitoring and visualisation system. This allows MCG to track live consumption of electricity, water and gas during an event and when the stadium is not in use. With the power to analyse utility usage in real time they’re not only helping reduce their carbon footprint but costs too. 

With the necessary economic recovery on everybody’s mind, the time has come for entrepreneurs and industry leaders to recognise that delivering products and services that enhance humanity’s ability to succeed is not about doing good, but doing what’s necessary for their business,” says Mathis Wackernagel, the founder and president of Global Footprint Network.

Despite the shift in date, humanity continues to demand more from nature than it can afford to give. With the right approach, this year’s step in the right direction is a significant opportunity for conscious companies to secure competitive advantage.

“Together we can move from the COVID-19 crisis to a future that is resilient and workable for all, by design. One key ingredient is to shift the sustainability conversation from noble to fundamentally necessary. This can help unleash the groundswell for one-planet prosperity, the most viable strategy we know of. It surely beats one-planet misery,” says Gareth O’Reilly, Pacific Zone President of Schneider Electric.

The one-planet prosperity framework was launched last year by Schneider Electric and Global Footprint Network. This year, the partners teamed up to illustrate how companies whose products and services support humanity’s long-term success -- contributing to move the date of Earth Overshoot Day -- are better positioned to remain relevant in the long-term.

About Global Footprint Network

Global Footprint Network, who pioneered the Ecological Footprint accounting, is an international sustainability organization that is helping the world live within the Earth’s means and respond to climate change. Since 2003 we’ve engaged with more than 50 countries, 30 cities, and 70 global partners to deliver scientific insights that have driven high-impact policy and investment decisions. Together, we’re creating a future where all of us can thrive within the limits of our one planet.



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