The so-called “Climate Clock” looming over New York’s Union Square passed a critical milestone on Saturday.
The time left to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C - the ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement - dropped from six years to five. Beyond 1.5C, scientists say that the impacts of the climate crisis will become even more severe and further destabilize the planet further.
“The five year mark is not the end, it is a reminder that we still have a window of hope to prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” the Climate Clock team announced at midday on Saturday.
“The biggest misconception about climate is that its impacts are in the future. This summer shows the devastating impacts are now. We need to act like we are living in a climate emergency.”
The Paris Agreement, signed by nearly every country in the world, pledged to curb temperature rise to 1.5C or at least well below 2C. The world has warmed around 1.2C in the past 150 years and is tracking to hit 2.7C by the end of the century.
Activists held a global day of action across five continents to highlight the moment.
Community events were held in dozens of countries including Egypt, Tanzania, Finland, and India.
In Union Square, a vigil was held with speeches, songs, and calls for an immediate end to the use of fossil fuels, which is driving the climate crisis.
The effects of the climate crisis are everywhere to be seen: In the scorching, record-breaking heatwaves across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, and the more powerful storms which have killed hundreds of people and wreaked havoc around the world.
The world had its hottest week ever at the start of July, preliminary data shows. June was the hottest month in human history.
The extreme temperatures in the United States have been caused by a punishing heat dome which has stalled for the past month.
More than 100 million people across the Southwest were under heat alerts this weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Phoenix, Arizona has seen a record-breaking 19 daysin a row when temperatures topped 110F (43C). In Death Valley, an experienced hiker died in the extreme heat - the second fatality in the national park this month.
The Climate Clock bases its estimate on research from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin, which draws on data from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s most authoratitive climate science body.