Earth Overshoot Day and greenhouse gas emissions

Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Media Biodiverstité as part of a content partnership. It has been edited for clarity. 

Will the world after be worse than the world before?

It took a global pandemic and the sudden shutdown of our economy to push back by three weeks the increasingly infamous “Earth Overshoot Day in 2020”. Despite increased awareness, a will to change, and recent commitments of governments, politics, industries and individuals for a more sustainable world and economy, the observation is bitter: “Overshoot day” 2021 is identical to that of the world before, that of the year 2019 – July 29 . Worse, while we are witnessing increasing instances of natural disasters linked to global warming (floods, heatwaves records, mega-fires, etc.), global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are likely to, according to the International Energy Agency, reach a new record high in 2023…  

However, the true aim of Earth Overshoot Day is to quantify our impact with a view to changing our behaviours as businesses and individuals – in time to protect the planet for future generations.  

An alarming finding that calls for profound changes 

According to Global Footprint Network, who initiated the calculation of the overshoot day, to achieve the IPCC’s 2030 target, we would need to be able to push back the date by 10 days each year so that humanity “consumes” less than one earth per year. Not only does the planet fail to restore its stocks due to intensive extraction, it is also struggling to absorb all the harmful emissions, including GHGs, created by human and industrial activity. Consequently, the overexploitation of the earth makes it unable to regenerate itself to guarantee a sustainable future and climate for humanity. If everybody in the world consumed like an average European, it would take 2.8 planets each year to meet our “needs”. While understanding and accepting the limits of the earth will play a central role in its preservation, the conversion of our systems to a regenerative economy will become critical to keep our natural capital assets. 

A sustainable transformation of models, which must be brought to the highest level of the company 

Ray Anderson, the visionary founder of Interface, became aware of these issues very early on. Reading Paul Hawken’s book, The Ecology of Commerce was the trigger that drove him to radically transform the business model of his company, which at the time was based on the intensive use of virgin oil to manufacture flooring products, towards a regenerative and circular economy. Since 1994, the company has focused on developing innovative concepts and solutions to eliminate any negative environmental footprint. To achieve this, Interface was inspired by nature, where everything is reused, transformed, filtered and recycled, consumed responsibly (taking only what’s needed) and without generating a single negative impact on ecosystems or waste. 

The company has therefore sought solutions to become circular, to achieve this it has: committed all its stakeholders in the supply chain to offer recycled and recyclable materials, reused waste from other industries, redesigned its products to use less raw materials, reduced the intensity of use of energy and water in its processes, and, focused to reduce both its GHGs (reduced by 96% since 1996) and the carbon footprint of its products (reduced by 76% cradle to gate, since 1996). In terms of uses, Interface also explores functional economy (e.g. leasing), extended use of products (reuse), and end-of-life treatment solutions (transformation into raw material or recycling). 

To find out more about Interface journey and progress – please see the Sustainability Highlights 2020 of the company.

Set ambitious goals to push the boundaries of the company 

Since 2016, with its new mission, Climate Take Back ™, Interface has been committed to run its business in a way that reverses global warming. How? becoming a carbon negative enterprise by 2040, by considering CO2 as a resource. 5 years later, thanks to bio-based materials that sequester CO2, and the optimization of processes and components, the company has even created carbon negative products (cradle to gate). 

Many initiatives carried out by other companies, such as MichelinSignify or Fairphone, prove that solutions exist and that another way is possible … Industry has a key role to play: it must pave the way to the long-awaited sustainable transition. More than ever, it is time for manufacturers and wider business to limit and sharply reduce its ecological footprint, by promoting – as much as possible responsible consumption (use only what’s needed), circularity and innovation. 

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3 responses to “Earth Overshoot Day and greenhouse gas emissions”

  1. John Marsh says:

    Please could you tell me where the temperature is to be measured on, at what time, what day, an which season? As the earths temperature futurates wildly thought the year all over the globe?

    • Interface says:

      Thanks for asking John. The temperature measurements are taken from weather stations around the world each and every day. For further information, see the data used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or the Show Your Stripes campaign which itself uses data from Berkeley Earth (you can search by country and city –

      • John Marsh says:

        Ok so how do adjust the world temperature in each location around the world every day at anytime to be 1.5 degrees below what you’d like it to be? It’s silly to think mankind can adjust the worlds temperature to 1.5 degree any way using a CO2 0.4% trace natural gas of 97% is natural.

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