UK’s Earth Overshoot Day
We are living on borrowed resources
As things stand, we are utilising resources that do not belong to us. As of today, 19 May 2023, we have consumed all the UK can regenerate in a year. This comes when we are only 138 days through the year, with just under two-thirds remaining. Today is our Overshoot Day.
The UK has a biocapacity per capita of 0.56 gha/person, whilst the average UK resident has the 9th highest ecological footprint in the world, equalling 7.93 gha/person. We overconsume the Earth’s resources at a rate of 7.37 gha/person, a rate that the UK biocapacity cannot regenerate at – to achieve this, we would need 4.1 UK’s. But this does not just affect the UK, if every person in the world was to live like UK residents, we would need 2.6 Earths worth of resources.
The UK economy is heavily reliant on its resources, with the utilised agricultural area (UAA) totalling 17.6 million hectares in 2022, accounting for around 71% of the total land size. Whilst the use of natural resources for the purposes of agriculture only equates to 0.68% of the UK’s GDP, the larger sectors such as manufacturing and services are also at risk. Analysis conducted by Natural Capital Finance Alliance using ENCORE shows that there is potential high dependency on natural capital over 74% of the FTSE All-Share index sectors.
How can we solve this?
To reach a sustainable level of consumption by the year 2050, we would need to shift the date back 8 days per annum to achieve an Earth Overshoot Day of 31 December 2050. But how can you as a business help to do this?
Humanity’s ecological footprint is predominantly composed of carbon emissions, which account for 60% of our overall impact on the planet. Decarbonisation represents the most effective strategy for restoring balance between our ecological footprint and the planet’s renewable resources whilst simultaneously mitigating climate change. If we manage to cut down the carbon emissions that contribute to humanity’s ecological footprint by 50%, it would shift the UK’s Earth Overshoot Day by over three months, or 93 days.
By implementing readily available and commercially viable energy-efficiency technologies in buildings, industrial processes and electricity production, we could shift Overshoot Day by a minimum of 21 days, without compromising on productivity or comfort.
Addressing the ecological debt crisis is not a task that can be accomplished overnight. Fortunately, viable solutions are already available and have been effectively implemented. The need of the hour is to swiftly scale up their implementation.
Author: Harry Freeman, Consultant
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