A great paper by Kate Meyer and Peter Newman in the journal Sustainable Earth discusses planetary accounting. Human impacts on the environment are so great that we are at risk of changing the state of the planet from one that is hospitable to one that is hostile to humanity. Scientists have previously proposed nine Planetary Boundaries, global environmental limits within which the risk of changing the state of the planet is low, but already, four have been exceeded. Meyer and Newman (2018) discuss a new approach – the Planetary Accounting Framework – in which environmental impacts are compared to global limits, the Planetary Quotas.
Planetary accounting is about creating a series of environmental “budgets” to stop us overshooting the planet’s natural boundaries. From that, we can then calculate everyone’s fair share, and make it easier to visualize the impact of actions by individuals, corporations or communities. Planetary Accounting means that decisions can be made at different levels or sectors regarding policy, planning, technology, business operations, legislation, and behaviour in the context of global environmental limits. It enables the practical application and communication of the Planetary Boundaries to different scales of human activity.