Overall, the population of a country has little bearing on the country’s carbon emissions as long as a society is powered on fossil fuels and old, inefficient infrastructure. It’s like comparing a new and an old car. Sure, you’ll use a bit more gas when the load in your car is different but ultimately, there’s still a basis of efficiency and exhaust that’s not going to change if you have one person or four in the vehicle. The old vehicle, like the old infrastructure and power generation, will always be more intensive on the environment.
From 2019 to 2020, the top rated countries in EODs remains nearly unchanged. While top cited causes for a global downturn in carbon emissions have been traffic, less air travel, and lower consumption patterns, we see that these have little impact on our overall exhaustion of global resources on a per capita scale. COVID has shown that there are bigger, more systemic issues at play producing carbon emissions and that measuring per capita emissions, while useful to some applications, misses the point of the global industries we are working to adapt.
The second major takeaway is the other side of the coin: Global industry is the culprit and potential hero when it comes to lowering carbon emissions overall. With an overall 14.5% decrease in carbon footprint and an 8.4% decrease in forest products globally this year, we see again that land use and change has a massive impact on the environment – not only because of the carbon emissions output by the forestry industry itself but the opportunity cost, so to speak, of the carbon emissions that would have been sequestered had that land not been changed or developed.
With these decreases, we scaled the EOD back by 3 weeks this year. At this rate, we’re looking at a reduction of 58%-60% of pre-COVID carbon emission levels in order to eliminate Earth Overshoot Day and live symbiotically with nature again. Taking the lessons of COVID’s economic shutdown, in order to return greener we need to develop alternative energies, modernize infrastructure, and empower global industries to transform their operations and activities. This is how we will continue to scale forward our EOD from here forward.