Today marks the Earth Overshoot Day

Today marks the Earth Overshoot Day – the day when we have used more from nature than our planet can renew in an entire year.

Currently, we’re using 1.7 earths through our carbon emissions we produce, our waste, our overfishing, our overharvesting of forests and other resource consumption. Our planet cannot absorb the amount of carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere nor can our ecosystems replenish at the rate we consume.

This infographic shows the trend in the date by which we reach this day year-on-year:

Despite the fact we seemed to reach a relative plateau in 2011, this year we reached the

date of over-consumption sooner than last year. This is worrying that despite our efforts, we aren’t doing enough.

We aren’t short of solutions. Global Footprint Network highlights four major areas for improving sustainability: food, cities, population, and energy. Here are some of my favourite examples:

Food 

  • ALDI’s Love Food Hate Waste has enabled them to donate 112 tonnes of food waste to FareShare
  • Since Pret opened, it’s been doing it’s Charity Food Run – giving away all unsold food to the homeless
  • UK Harvest is a fantastic charity working to eliminate hunger and food waste through education and the redistribution of quality surplus food

Cities 

  • Naturvation is a project funded by the European Commission to explore nature-based urban innovations. You can explore their atlas of solutions here
  • A number of cities now run off 100% renewable energy, including Aspen, Colorado. Since the ratification of the Paris Climate Accord, the number of cities getting their energy from renewable sources has more than doubled
  • China is building a new ‘Forest City’ where all the buildings will be covered in over 40,000 trees and 1 million plants.

Population

  • This is an issue very close to my heart. Achieving gender equality is imperative for stabilising population growth so society can live within its means. Educating girls and providing access to family planning is particularly key. UN He for She is driving this mission – take the pledge of support here
  • Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. UNICEF is working to help achieve SDG 5 and end child marriage which traps girls (often before age 15) in a cycle of poverty
  • A McKinsey report found a positive link between increased diversity and improved financial performance. Companies such as De Beers have made commitments to invest in projects to advance women and achieve parity in numbers of women and men appointed to senior leadership by 2020

Energy

  • Here at Carbon Credentials we’re working to enable a global low carbon economy. We’ve helped companies such as Tesco to understand and commit to GHG emissions reductions that are in line with the Paris Agreement, through setting Science-based Targets
  • There are some incredibly exciting innovations happening that aim to transform energy-intensive processes into carbon neutral ones, such as Rocky Mountain Institute’s Sunshine for Mines
  • The FSB have developed a set of voluntary, climate-related financial disclosures (TCFD) for use by companies to provide information to investors and other stakeholders, in order to increase transparency and drive improved performance. We are helping our clients to align with these requirements

Collaboration is key to driving these solutions. We’re making great strides but there’s still work to do.

To find out how your company can do its part, contact me at francesca.wiley@carboncredentials.com