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🕑 2 minutes read

Earth Overshoot Day 2020: Coronavirus and the impact on the climate

Each year, Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when our demand for ecological resources exceeds what the planet can regenerate in that year.

It means that we consume and use more natural resources, including plant-based food and fibre products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, than the earth can produce in a year, and emit more C02 than the earth can absorb in that year.

This year Earth Overshoot Day has been calculated as August 22, almost one month later than last year (July 29, 2019.)

COVID-19 has been identified as a key cause of the improved date, given the reduced CO2 emissions that have resulted from lockdowns around the world.

“The coronavirus pandemic has caused humanity’s Ecological Footprint to contract. However, true sustainability that allows all to thrive on earth can only be achieved by design, not disaster.”

Many of us have seen the green shoots of a step change in planet-harming behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic. Initially, traffic was significantly reduced, and many people adopted a more active lifestyle, with an increase in walking, cycling, and running. Shopping habits changed too, with local services and shops stepping in to plug the gap for those wary of exposing themselves to crowds in larger supermarkets, while many more people took advantage of the time at home to invest in growing their own fruit and vegetables.

If this has made you think about your personal impact on the calculation, or indeed that of your organisation, consider these 10 simple tips for limiting planet-harming behaviour and reducing energy:

  1. Try to eat seasonal food and avoid processed food. Support local shops, farm shops and box schemes where possible.
  2. Avoid standby functions.
  3. Avoid leaving devices plugged in when they are sufficiently charged.
  4. Avoid switching lights on when there is sufficient daylight. Switch lights off when you leave rooms, and consider PIR controls for areas with intermittent footfall, such as corridors and bathrooms
  5. Ensure the temperature of your building is correct. Reducing the temperature by one degree can save 5% to 10% on your heating bill. Operating the heating systems for an hour less each day will save a similar amount.
  6. Avoid the use of energy-consuming portable electric heaters and put extra clothes on when you feel cold. Avoid putting furniture in front of radiators, so that the heat circulates better.
  7. Avoid travelling by car for short trips if you can walk or cycle instead.
  8. Consider opportunities for renewables and electric vehicles
  9. Avoid overfilling the kettle, use just the amount of water required.
  10. Save water – collect rain water in a water butt for watering plants; wash up in a bowl, instead of under a running tap; take showers instead of baths

Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by international research organisation Global Footprint Network. To understand more about Earth Overshoot Day, and to calculate your own impact on the planet visit the site here.


21 Aug 2020

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