Earth Overshoot Day, the planet is in the red

Published on Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Earth Overshoot Day came early once again this year. This day, which marks when the natural resources that the Earth is able to regenerate in a year are finished, came earlier in 2019, on 29 July, than it did in 2018, 1 August. From this moment on, we begin to consume the Planet’s reserves, thereby reducing the resources available for the future.

Thirty years ago, this day would fall in October, twenty years ago at the end of September. Every year Overshoot Day comes earlier, highlighting the lack of sustainability in the linear economic model, the consequences of which are clear for all to see, namely, climate change, resource scarcity, pollution and loss of biodiversity.

Overshoot Day is identified by Global Footprint Network (GFN), an international research association that monitors man’s ecological footprint, that is the relationship between the demand for resources and what the Earth is able to generate.  Based on this relationship, a new date is estimated every year. “We have only one Earth: we can’t use resources equal to 1.75 planet Earths without incurring negative consequences,” emphasised Mathis Wackernagel, co-inventor of the metrics behind the ecological footprint and founder of Global Footprint Network.

Overshoot Day in Italy

GFN also calculates the Overshoot Day for individual countries annually. Italy’s came on 15 May, eight days earlier than 2018. Italy is in ninth place amongst the countries that consume more natural resources than regenerable ones and second in terms of population demand: to satisfy these requirements, 4.7 countries of the same size would be required. In absolute terms, the United States is the country that consumes the most: if the entire world population were to adopt a similar lifestyle, five planets would be needed every year to meet the demand.

#MoveTheDate to push back Earth Overshoot Day

To remedy this situation, alongside a further 30 organisations Global Footprint Network has launched the “Steps to #MoveTheDate” initiative to push back Overshoot Day. GFN has calculated that “earning” five days a year would allow humanity to reach a balance with the resources produced annually by our planet by 2050. With this aim, the organisation has drawn up an action plan for five key sectors: city, energy, food, population and planet. For example, reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 50% would push the date back by 93 days.

The organisation emphasises the need to change paradigm and move towards a circular economy model to make #MoveTheDate a success and avoid passing the point of no return. In the circular model, natural resources are consumed for multiple life cycles, waste is transformed into new resources that can be used to extend the useful life of goods, products are designed to last longer, to be easily dismantled and regenerated, consumption models are aimed at sharing rather than exclusive ownership. According to GFN, for example, if 100% of buildings and industrial infrastructures were fitted with energy efficiency technology and able to run on renewable energy, Earth Overshoot Day could be moved back by at least 21 days.

The transition to the circular model

The commitment of businesses is essential to complete the transition to the circular economy Enel is making a solid contribution to the #MoveTheDate initiative with a strategy that focuses on the transition to renewables and is redefining its activities based on a circular perspective. This strategy also includes the decommissioning of fossil fuel thermoelectric power stations and the repurposing of the sites through the Futur-e programme, for example, as well as the group’s procurement policy which is supporting the transition of the entire supply chain to a circular economy approach (Circular Procurement).

Enel X is also developing innovative products and solutions in this vein, driven by the circular model and launching the Circular Economy Boosting Programme to assist clients in increasing their circularity levels and measuring the resulting benefits.

The Enel Group has developed a model of circularity measurement (CirculAbility Model), based on the pillars of the circular economy and applied to the entire value chain, to ensure the efficient adoption of this new paradigm and track its results.

Solid actions that contribute actively to #MoveTheDate and ensure a sustainable future for the younger generations.

 

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