9 May 2019

EU Overshoot Day and the critical moment we are in

Tomorrow, 10 May, marks ‘EU Overshoot Day’. This means that if everyone in the world consumed the Earth’s resources at the same rate as the average EU resident, we would use up all the resources that the planet can renew annually by 10 May. This can be compared to World Overshoot Day, which last year fell on 1 August.

This poses a clear concern. Overshoot day helps to illustrate the speed at which our resources are being depleted. In theory, all that humanity consumes beyond what can be naturally replenished annually is ‘unsustainable’ and indicates resource depletion.

A social media campaign is urging us to consume more sustainably in order to #MoveTheDate. More conscientious use would mean that we would not reach Overshoot until later in the year, and humanity could come ever closer to sustainably relying on Earth’s resources.

This year, EU Overshoot Day comes at a critical time. This week – in an effort led by ICLEI Europe in collaboration with six other city networks – 210 European Mayors released an Open Letter urging the European Council and Member States to step up the EU’s climate commitments. The letter calls for the development of a European long-term climate strategy that ensures that emissions in the EU peak by 2020, more than halve by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050.

The Open Letter was released ahead of the EU Leaders Summit on the Future of Europe conference that took place in Sibiu (Romania) on 9 May. This conference was the culmination of a two-year process to reflect on the issues that matter to Europeans, and to plan for how the EU will evolve moving forward.

EU Overshoot Day also falls just two weeks before the EU elections – taking place from 23-26 May. This election will be of critical importance to ensuring that the EU moves towards a more sustainable future.

Mayors are acknowledging the unique moment we are in. Martin Horn, Mayor of Freiburg (Germany) and Chair of ICLEI Europe, declared with the release of the Open Letter that: “Now is the time to act to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. We have to listen to science and take the IPCC report seriously – it is very likely that we only have until 2030 to limit climate change effects. We need a rapid and deep transformation to a more sustainable and just society for the benefits of our citizens, and should commit to a net-zero emissions target by 2050. Freiburg will continue to implement ambitious climate measures to safeguard the well-being of our and future generations.”

This EU Overshoot Day, join the movement to consume the Earth’s resources more sustainably. Share the actions you are taking to do so across social media using the hashtag #MovetheDay.

As one of those actions, be sure to vote in the EU elections on 23-26 May. Encourage others to do the same using the hashtag #ThisTimeImVoting, and follow @ICLEI_Europe to see the Mayors and European citizens also committing to voting this month.

To read the full report on EU Overshoot Day, click here.