According to the climate clock, there are less than six years left before the catastrophic effects of global warming-induced climate change occur.
On July 22nd, the Day of Climate Emergency, numerous news reports highlighted extreme events affecting various regions of the planet: southern Brazil is facing a series of extratropical cyclones (the fourth cyclone is on its way in less than 40 days), Greece is dealing with wildfires caused by excessive heat, a city near Milan, Italy, was flooded by a river of ice after a hailstorm, and the United States is experiencing deadly temperatures. A new El Niño, intensified by the effects of global warming, is causing concern among experts, as the conditions being faced are entirely atypical.
In this almost dystopian scenario we live in, in Rio de Janeiro, the Christ the Redeemer statue opened its arms to display the Climate Clock, which marks the deadline for keeping the average global temperature increase at still safe levels for life on the planet.
The question posed by this action is exactly this: how much time do we still have before it’s too late?
An international group of scientists and activists created the Climate Clock as a powerful media tool to alert the population and draw attention from authorities. Projected on the Christ the Redeemer statue, one of the world’s most famous monuments, the Climate Clock put Brazil on the map of events held globally by the Climate Clock. Originally a 24-meter digital clock in New York City’s Union Square, the Climate Clock is also present in London, Rome, Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing.
For the first time, the Climate Clock is showing less than six years until the “point of no return” for the climate. The calculation is based on the “carbon budget,” which is the amount of carbon we continue to emit globally. The countdown will reach zero when the entire carbon budget has been exhausted. At this point, the likelihood of devastating global climate impacts will be very high. The countdown time speeds up if global emission rates continue to increase, but it can slow down if we meet emission reduction targets.
According to Natalie Unterstell, president of the Talanoa Institute, having less than six years left until this deadline gives a sense of urgency for action. “It is our generation, the generation of everyone alive, that has to solve this problem, here and now. There is no time to waste with vague promises and false solutions,” she emphasizes. The Talanoa Institute is a Brazilian non-profit organization seeking to contribute to positive impact public policies for both people and the planet.
“This is the critical threshold, the point beyond which the consequences will be catastrophic for nature and humanity,” explains Natalie, who leads the campaign in Brazil. The average annual rate of 42.2 billion tons of carbon emissions forms the basis used to calculate the remaining time on the clock, data provided by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.
The action at the Christ the Redeemer statue featured artistic performances and a physical copy of the climate clock, projecting solutions for combating carbon emissions. Among them are investments in electrified public transportation, circular economy practices, reverse logistics, universal access to sanitation, and zero deforestation in all biomes, among others.
COP30 in Brazil will take place amid alarming temperature increases
With COP30 approaching, to be hosted in Belém do Pará, Brazil, global attention is increasingly focused on the country, which houses 60% of the Amazon Rainforest. The arrival of the climate clock alerts to the importance of the country advancing in emission reductions and encouraging other nations to do the same. Stopping deforestation, transitioning from oil and gas to renewable energy, and electrifying transportation are some of the actions proposed by environmentalists as potential mitigators of the current escalation.
They emphasize that the agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, signed in Paris in 2015, is seriously threatened as signatory countries have not been able to fulfill their promises.
The rise in temperature, which according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), recorded 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in 2020 (1880), is already visibly impacting rainfall patterns and increasing the risk of food, energy, and water shortages, as well as the extinction of certain species, prolonged droughts, wildfires, heatwaves, floods, storms, and rising sea levels. The WMO predicts a 20% probability that the temperature increase will temporarily exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius starting from 2024.
“Every year that we don’t take action, the level of difficulty and cost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions increases,” states the document published by the Talanoa Institute. “The speed at which temperatures are rising is alarming,” says Pascal Peduzzi, director of GRID-Geneva, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “At this rate, we could reach +1.5°C within the next 15 years,” warned Peduzzi.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if we increase global warming from 1.5 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsius, the consequences can be devastating. We would see a 1-meter rise in sea levels, affecting up to 16 million inhabitants in coastal areas. Additionally, we would face the risk of killing between 70% and 99% of coral reefs and have twice the probability of insects, vital pollinators, losing half of their habitat.
Petrobras’ focus on the mouth of the Amazon River puts Brazil’s energy investment direction into question
In the context of a rapidly diminishing time to decide to reduce carbon emissions, the licensing of another oil extraction front at the mouth of the Amazon River is making headlines in Brazilian newspapers amid heated political debates between ministers, the president, and members of Congress. It’s worth remembering that oil exploration is the second-largest activity emitting greenhouse gases on the planet. According to the 2022 Energy Balance, published by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, non-renewable fossil fuels accounted for about 16% of Brazil’s energy production in 2021.
The question raised by Rodrigo Agostinho is extremely relevant
because it reveals the strategic issue at hand: at a time when the entire world is trying to move away from oil, will Brazil continue to invest precisely in this direction?
Agostinho is the head of the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), who is responsible for approving the environmental license for extraction.
Talanoa Institute Website: https://institutotalanoa.org/
Climate Clock Website: https://climateclock.world/
Climate Clock Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/climateclock.world/
Climate Clock TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@theclimateclock
Christ the Redeemer Sanctuary: https://santuariocristoredentor.com.br/