We’ve already “busted the planet’s budget”: Ecological Debt Day in 2022 will come sooner than ever before.

To date, people have already used up a year of natural resources in 2022, a calendar event known as Eco Debt Day.

The annual date marks the moment when mankind has used up all the biological resources that the Earth can regenerate during that year.

But in 2022, this will happen sooner than ever before, mainly due to the demand for food, land, timber and new urban infrastructure to serve a growing population.

The demand for these resources exceeds the biocapacity of the Earth – its ability to renew these resources – which means that now we have actually moved to an overdraft.

It also means that we have surpassed the planet’s annual capacity to absorb waste products such as carbon dioxide.

Humans have “busted the Earth’s budget”: Earth Resource Overrun Day is the calendar date when humanity’s consumption of resources during a year exceeds the Earth’s ability to regenerate those resources in that year. Pictured is the Earth captured by NASA’s Polychromatic Earth Imaging Camera.

Humans 'Bust Out the Earth's Budget': This Year's Earth Overregulation Day Arrives Earlier Than Ever (Thursday, July 28)

Humans ‘Bust Out the Earth’s Budget’: This Year’s Earth Overregulation Day Arrives Earlier Than Ever (Thursday, July 28)

Earth Release Day, held and calculated by the Oakland, California-based sustainability think tank Global Footprint Network, is more than a month late than usual in 2020 due to global Covid restrictions.


Earth Overload Day marks the moment when humanity has used up all the biological resources the Earth can regenerate during that year.

This year it’s July 28th. Thus, in less than seven months, people have used more natural resources than the planet can produce in 12 months.

Until the end of 2022, we will live off the resources borrowed from future generations.

It is calculated by dividing the world’s biocapacity – the amount of natural resources generated by the planet in that year – by humanity’s natural consumption of the Earth’s resources over a 12-month period.

Then it is multiplied by 365, the number of days in a year.

The Green Debt Day concept was created by Andrew Simms, a climate economist at Global Witness, a London-based think tank.

But last year it was at the end of July and this year it’s earlier than ever since the annual date was launched in 2006.

Mathis Wackernagel, president of the Global Footprint Network, said that humans use 75% more biological resources than the Earth can regenerate – the same amount as if we lived on 1.75 planets.

But if humanity can “shift the date” of Eco-Debt Day by six days every year, humanity can bring that figure below “one planet” until 2050.

“One planet is the regenerative capacity of the entire planet Earth,” Wackernagel told MailOnline.

“This is our physical budget. We also want to share it with wild species, so we humans may not want to use the entire budget.

“We are currently consuming at least 1.75 times as much, meaning we are leaving as if we had 1.75 Earths at our disposal – hence we are seeing depletion.”

Nigel Topping, the UN’s top climate change official at COP26, told MailOnline that humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity, power vehicles, heat, build homes and more is “still too high.”

“We are at a crossroads. For every tenth degree of warming, we choose to cause more economic damage and pain to ourselves, our businesses and communities, our children and their children.

“This is a moment of massive decisions and consequences, whether we want to see it or not. The more we throw away now, the more expensive and drastic actions we will need in a few years.”

The date of the Day of Ecological Debt changes every year depending on how much of the Earth’s natural resources are used by mankind.

It is calculated by dividing the planet’s biocapacity – the amount of ecological resources that the Earth can generate this year – by the need of humanity this year, known as our ecological footprint, and multiplying this figure by 365, the number of days in a year.

If the global population’s demand for environmental assets exceeds supply, an environmental scarcity occurs.

For example, people plant about 2 billion trees a year. Eco Debt Day is celebrated when we use 2 billion trees to produce timber or to clear land for raising cattle.

For the remainder of the year following Ecological Debt Day, humanity has to cut down other trees to meet demand – meaning that at some point in the future, all of Earth’s trees will eventually be used up.

Even though Earth Day only started in 2006, the researchers used the data to backdate the milestone to 1971.

Back in the 1970s, Ecological Debt Day didn’t come until November or December, but since then the date has come earlier and earlier at an alarming rate.


2021: July 28

2020: August 22

2019: July 29

2018: August 1

2017: August 3

2016: August 5

Neil Ross Russell, founder of London-based environmental services firm Net Zero Now, said “we all have a responsibility” to bring Eco-Obligation Day early.

“No individual or company should feel like they are excluded from this issue,” he told MailOnline.

“The food we eat, the packaging we use, the energy we use or the clothes we wear all contribute to the speed at which Eco Debt Day is coming.”

Russell said members of the public can do their part by walking or cycling to work, eliminating meat from their diet one day a week, and opting for reusable water bottles instead of buying plastic bottles.

Emily Tradd, head of the Net Zero Now climate project, added that it will be important for the public to vote for leaders who support “real climate change action.”

“Members of the public can choose public transport, choose renewable fares where possible, fly less, consume less animal products, choose more responsible pension funds, and vote,” she said.

The Global Footprint Network also this year calculated when Eco-Obt Day would be if the entire population of the world was consuming resources as fast as a single country.

If the world had Qatar’s consumer habits, the day would be February 10, which would make the Arab country the world’s worst criminal.

The US, known for its mass consumption habits, had the joint third closest date, along with the UAE and Canada, on March 13, while the UK was 32nd on the list since May 19.

Meanwhile, poor Indonesia is consuming resources more slowly than any other country, and if we all lived like Indonesia, Eco Debt Day would be December 20th.

The graph shows when Eco Debt Day will come if the world continuously consumes resources as fast as different countries.  The UK ranks 32nd on this list with the date May 19th.

The graph shows when Eco Debt Day will come if the world continuously consumes resources as fast as different countries. The UK ranks 32nd on this list with the date May 19th.

Overall, greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas make a huge contribution to humanity’s Ecological Footprint.

Topping told MailOnline that some companies and countries have had a “huge impact on the current climate crisis.”

“This is important to be aware of, especially when considering the future of developing countries, many of which have historically contributed the least to emissions and are often the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural crises,” he said.

“Combating climate change is largely everyone’s responsibility, and the more we can act together, the more holistic the solutions will be, the faster they will be implemented, and the more inclusive and equitable this rollout will be.”

Richard George, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace UK, previously told MailOnline that the problem lies with large commercial companies “finding, retrieving and using resources as quickly as possible.”

“Responsible companies are torn between doing the right thing and competing with big business refusing to change course without government action,” he said.

“Unfortunately, our government is sitting on its hands, not leading forward.”

The Global Footprint Network is calling on people to

The Global Footprint Network is calling on people to “postpone” Green Debt Day, which is driven by energy consumption, food production and more.

Helena Bennett, head of climate policy at Green Alliance, said: “While we can all play a role in reducing our own impact on the planet, ultimately the government must ensure that green choices are simple and cheap for the public.

“Due to rising gas prices, electricity bills will rise this winter, and people are rightfully worried.”

“But many emission reduction solutions can also provide cost savings: insulating buildings means we need less energy to heat our homes, and expanding the use of renewable energy will reduce our dependence on Russian oil and gas imports.”


The following are the dates on which Ecological Debt Day would occur if the world were constantly consuming resources as fast as different countries:

February 11: Qatar

14 February: Luxembourg

March 13: USA, Canada, UAE

March 23: Australia

March 14: USA

March 26: Belgium


If the world were consuming resources at the same rate as the following five countries, Eco Debt Day would fall much later this year:

December 20: Jamaica

December 6: Ecuador

December 3rd: Indonesia

November 25: Cuba

November 24: Iraq

November 14: Guatemala