Current issues related to economy, (responsible) investment, pension and income: every week an APG expert gives a clear answer to the question of the week. This time: Peter Verbaken, Head of APG’s Commodities Team, on the question of whether overconsumption of commodities can be compensated for later.
April 12 marked the annual “Overshoot Day” in the Netherlands. If every world inhabitant lived as we do in the Netherlands, then on April 12, as many resources and storage space for carbon dioxide would already have been consumed as the earth can regenerate in an entire year. In other words: The Netherlands actually needs 3.6 Earths to meet the consumption of its inhabitants.
Overshoot Day comes relatively early in the year in the Netherlands - as in other Western countries - and also occurs earlier each year. In Brazil, for example, this day is not reached until Aug. 12, and in Indonesia it is not even reached until Dec. 3. Earth (Global) Overshoot Day in recent years falls in July. So in terms of resource consumption and CO2 emissions, we are further “in the red” every year. Can that deficit be made up in the future?
To answer that question, Verbaken distinguishes between carbon emissions and consumption of raw materials. “The goal is for both the EU and the United States to be CO2-neutral by 2050 and China by 2060. So by that time, as much or less carbon should be emitted as the earth can absorb annually, or can be captured by human intervention. Then you would no longer have an excess of carbon emissions.” That would not, however, reverse the carbon that has been emitted since the industrial revolution. “There would still be a global warming of - as it looks now - at least 1.5 degrees around 2060. Perhaps in the long run, when substantially less carbon is emitted than the earth can absorb, it may be possible to reverse some of that warming. But that is a scenario for the distant future.”