Today (2 August) marks Earth Overshoot Day – the date when humanity’s annual demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what the Earth can regenerate within that given year.
Although today marks the global Earth Overshoot Day, the UK’s overshoot day was marked much earlier in the year on 19 May.
In a week where the government has announced a series of reforms that will only worsen the UK’s overshoot, the Green Party has outlined its ‘Earth Overshoot action plan’ to attempt to move the date back as far as possible. The plan centres around three key policy areas: energy, housing and transport.
Speaking on the need for the plan, Green Party Co-leader Carla Denyer said: “Earth Overshoot Day is an important reminder that as a globe and as a nation we are currently living beyond the environmental limits of our one precious planet.
“It falls in a week when the government seems hellbent on overshoot. Maxing out on climate destruction by issuing new licences for oil and gas drilling; failing to tackle the climate crisis in tandem with the cost of living crisis through measures like home insulation; and fueling culture wars over measures which seek to make our neighbourhoods safer and healthier.”
The Earth Overshoot action plan is clear that there should be no new gas or oil exploration. This follows the IPCC’s message that there can be no more fossil fuel projects if there is any hope of ensuring global temperatures do not rise past 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The plan would also revoke all licences for gas and oil drilling in the North Sea and challenges the Labour Party to make the same commitment.
Powering the country with green electricity is also central to the plans, with significant investment in renewable energy promised, including onshore wind.
On housing, the plan aims to tackle the climate and the cost of living crises simultaneously. This will be achieved via a nationwide home insulation programme that will cut both carbon emissions and household bills.
The plan also aims to ensure that all new homes are built to ‘Passivhaus’ or similar standards alongside the installation of solar panels and heat pumps where possible. Passivhaus standards aim to reduce the energy use of buildings.
Affordable housing on brownfield sites near workplaces and shops is also encouraged as a part of the plan with the aim to mitigate the emissions created from energy-intensive, car-dependent homes on greenfield sites. A brownfield site is defined as any land that has previously been built on whereas a greenfield site is a site that has had no previous infrastructure.
The Greens recognise that all people want clean air, safe routes to walk and wheel and affordable public transport and these aims are central to the Earth Overshoot action plan’s strategies for transport.
The plan would introduce a ‘£1 fare to take you there’ for all single journeys on buses alongside free bus travel for those aged under 22. The plans for buses also include considerable investment with the aim to increase frequency and create routes to serve more communities.
Support schemes to make streets safer for walking and wheeling are also within the plan and have been proven to encourage more people to switch from cars to more active forms of transport.
Frequent flyer levies would be introduced, meaning those who take the most flights would pay the highest tax. This is to ensure that any tax burdens are not put onto the average person – who takes one or no flights a year – and instead on the 15 per cent of the population that takes 70 per cent of flights.
Carla Denyer added: “It is important we recognise the hugely unequal way in which the world’s resources are consumed, with multi-billion-pound corporations and a small number of individuals bearing the largest responsibility for overshoot. This is why Greens would increase taxes on fossil fuel polluters and the super-rich to address inequality and fund the green transition."