Earth Overshoot Day

Minister Müller on Earth Overshoot Day 2020: Exploitation of creation has contributed to COVID-19 crisis

Planet Earth

Press release of 22.08.2020 |

BERLIN / WASHINGTON – Earth Overshoot Day falls on 22 August this year. Earth Overshoot Day is the calculated date on which humanity's resource consumption for a given year exceeds our planet's capacity to regenerate those resources. This year, Earth Overshoot Day comes a little later than in previous years, due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, in 1987, Earth Overshoot Day still fell on 19 December.

On the occasion of this year's Earth Overshoot Day, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said:

"We need a radical change in mind-set in the global economy in order to better protect humans and the environment. Our goal must be to push the date of Earth Overshoot Day further and further back every year, even without events such as COVID-19. The COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for us all. We must not return to the "normal" of the old kind of globalisation. It would take 1.7 Earths to produce the resources humankind currently uses in the course of one year. For much too long, we have accepted the overexploitation of the natural environment, for instance the cutting down of rainforest. This is one reason why more and more infectious diseases – such as coronavirus – jump from animals to humans.

"Another consequence of our overexploitation of nature is advancing climate change. Thus, our crisis recovery strategy needs to pave the way for climate-neutral development.

"To that end, we are also working closely with the International Monetary Fund. We need to move forward along this road systematically – not least through an ambitious innovation and investment package for the development of renewable energy in Africa and India. This will also open up new markets and opportunities for German and European companies, not least with a view to crisis recovery."

The German Development Ministry (BMZ) works closely with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to make environmental sustainability a key element of the economic recovery. The two institutions jointly assist developing and emerging economies in making their response to the COVID-19 crisis environmentally sound. Among other things, efforts are geared towards reducing subsidies for fossil fuels and introducing carbon pricing mechanisms.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva added: "As the world looks forward from the COVID-19 crisis, we have an opportunity to reshape how we live and build a world that is greener, smarter, and fairer. I am so thankful to Germany for their strong leadership on climate change – and we are pleased to extend our capacity development partnership on climate issues with the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Together, we can help countries build greater institutional capacity and design effective policies to ensure climate-resilient economic growth for future generations."

Earth Overshoot Day on 22 August reminds us that our global "allotment" of natural resources – calculated in terms of annual regeneration capacity – for 2020 has been used up. Over the last few years, humanity has been taking an ever shorter proportion of a year to use up its natural capital. Earth Overshoot Day is calculated every year by the Global Footprint Network.

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