The date can be pushed back by embracing changes like 15-minute cities, low-carbon energy and reforestation.
Humanity has burned through Earth’s annual budget for resources in under eight months.
Known as Earth Overshoot Day, 2 August marks the date on which we’ve used up all the resources that the planet can regenerate in one year.
“Persistent overshoot leads to ever more prominent symptoms including unusual heatwaves, forest fires, droughts, and floods with the risk of compromising food production,” says Steven Tebbe, CEO of the Global Footprint Network - the organisation which produces the estimate.
This year’s date is months earlier than the first Overshoot Day on 25 December 1971.
But there is good news as we’ve used our annual budget roughly five days later than in 2022 - and the pace at which it is moving forward is slowing down.
There’s still a lot that needs to change, however, to stop humanity from burning through nearly two planets worth of resources every 12 months.
How is Earth Overshoot Day calculated?
Overshoot Day is calculated using UN data to work out each country’s ecological footprint and the ‘biocapacity’ of the planet. Biocapacity is Earth’s ability to produce renewable resources and absorb waste, while the ecological footprint measures demand on nature including consumption of resources and emissions.
Global warming caused by vast amounts of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels is driving the deficit, according to the Global Footprint Network. The organisation says that achieving a 43 per cent cut in global emissions by the end of the decade would require Overshoot Day to be pushed back by 19 days every year between now and 2030.
Which countries are consuming the most resources?
Some countries are burning through resources faster than others.
If everyone on the planet lived like people in the US, Overshoot Day would fall on 13 March. For Belgium, it would be 26 March, France 5 May and Spain 12 May.
The worst offenders were Qatar which would mark the occasion on 10 February and Luxembourg where Overshoot Day would land on 14 February.
If everyone lived like people in India, however, there would no longer be an overshoot with just 0.8 planets worth of resources being consumed every year.
How can we push Earth Overshoot Day back?
The Global Footprint Network says that increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources worldwide from 39 per cent to 75 per cent would move the date back by 26 days.
Halving food waste would give us 13 days and reforesting 350 million hectares of land would give us eight days.
Other national policies like creating 15-minute cities - where everything you need on a day-to-day basis can be reached by walking or cycling - as well as introducing a four-day work week could push back the date by 11 days.
Encouraging green transport use could also help to move Overshoot Day later in the year. If a third of all miles travelled by car were replaced by public transport, walking or cycling then the date would fall 13 days later.