Delayed Earth Overshoot Day points to opportunities to build future in harmony with our finite planet

Aug 18, 2020

COVID-19 has caused humanity’s Ecological Footprint to contract, pushing the date of Earth Overshoot Day back more than three weeks compared to last year. The challenge of relaunching our economies presents countries with a unique chance to act on the future we want. In cooperation with the Global Footprint Network, the Club of Rome is organizing an online event on August 20th (Register here).

By August 22, humanity will have demanded as much from nature as Earth can renew in the whole year, according to Global Footprint Network. Coronavirus-induced lockdowns caused humanity’s Ecological Footprint to contract almost 10% but we still use as many ecological resources as if we lived on 1.6 Earths. As public health and economic recovery have emerged as dominant concerns globally, decision makers are called to act on the unprecedented current disruption to build a future where all thrive within the means of our planet (“one-planet prosperity”).

On the occasion of Earth Overshoot Day 2020, the Club of Rome and Global Footprint Network are inviting decision makers and members of the media to the European Launch on August 20th, 9am CET (see below for details). The Club of Rome and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) will use this online event to formally introduce an updated Planetary Emergency Plan, making the case that the pandemic has highlighted our fragility and the profound links between disease, nature, climate and emissions, equity and justice, the finance sector, and food systems.

“Sustainability requires both ecological balance and people’s well-being ensured over the long-term, therefore this year’s sudden Ecological Footprint contraction cannot be mistaken for progress,” said Global Footprint Network CEO Laurel Hanscom. “This year more than ever, Earth Overshoot Day highlights the need for strategies that increase resilience for all and #MoveTheDate.”

“To build back better post COVID-19, Business as Usual (BAU) is not an option! This crisis has taught us that we can transform our lives when faced with disaster and reduce our environmental footprint. But this cannot be at the cost of human lives or livelihoods. That’s why we must build resilience to future health and environmental shocks into our economic, financial and societal systems now for both the short- and long-term well-being of all citizens” said Club of Rome Co-President Sandrine Dixson-Declève.

“Governments tempted to rollback climate and nature commitments to shore up collapsing economies should think again. This century is characterized by speed, scale, connectivity, and surprise. Global pandemics, climate chaos, deforestation, and mass extinctions are part of the same problem and interact and reinforce each other,” said Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Download the Press Release in English or German.

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