The science is clear: we are in a Climate Emergency. Decades of increasing carbon emissions ar harming the natural and societal systems upon which humanity depends, threatening untold ecological and human devastation if we do not #ActInTime. The good news: there is still time.
Backed by the latest science, the Climate Clock tells us what we must do, by when. The Deadline and Lifelines on the Climate Clock make explicit the speed and scope of action that political leaders must take in order to limit the worst climate impacts.
The Clock’s Deadline tells us that, at current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, we have less than eight years left in our global “carbon budget” that gives two-thirds chance of staying under the critical threshold of 1.5°C of global warming.
The Clock’s Renewable Energy Lifeline tells us that the percent of global energy coming from renewable sources is currently at 12.5% and rising, but not nearly fast enough.
Together, the Deadline and Lifeline frame our mission: We must #ActInTime to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and build a 100% renewable future.
This is a timeline that no government is yet willing to commit to, but we must do what science and justice demand, not what elected officials or CEOs might deem convenient.
We mustn’t pretend we have more time than we do.
We have one Deadline, and many Lifelines. Let’s #ActInTime.
CARBON BUDGET FOR 1.5ºC
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a Special Report – the first attempt by climate scientists to quantify a remaining global carbon budget that could feasibly keep global warming below 1.5ºC. In summer 2021, the IPCC published a report on the physical science basis of climate change, which included updated carbon budget estimates for limiting global warming to 1.5ºC. In this report, IPCC researchers estimated that, beginning in 2020, humans could release an additional 400Gt of carbon into the atmosphere and still have a 67% chance of limiting warming to 1.5ºC (see here, table SMP.2).
The Climate Clock deadline shows how long we have left until this carbon budget runs out, given the amount of carbon we continue to emit globally.
The clock will continue to run down until it hits zero, at which time our carbon budget would be depleted and the likelihood of devastating global climate impacts would be very high. We must take action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions toward zero as quickly as possible within this critical time window for action.
Data for the deadline is sourced from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. The MCC’s carbon clock assumes an average annual rate of 42.2 Gt of carbon emissions in order to calculate the time remaining on the clock. However, if rates of global emissions continue to rise, our carbon budget will run out even faster. If we cut the rate of global carbon emissions, time on the clock would hypothetically begin to increase.
For further information, or for your own climate clock, see https://climateclock.world/