Activists bring climate clock to Pennsylvania capitol to urge lawmaker action
Pennsylvania activists want lawmakers in Harrisburg to know the clock is ticking on climate change action.
About two dozen people on Monday chanted “Act in time!” as organizers uncovered a six-foot long clock counting down to the year 2030.
Unveiling the clock was the final piece of a three-day event called the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence.
Scientists say dramatic steps must be taken by the end of the decade in order to have a shot at limiting global warming below catastrophic levels.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the world’s energy supply should reach net-zero emissions by mid-century to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Net-zero means any remaining emissions would be captured before they reach the atmosphere.
Elise Silvestri, a recent high school graduate and an organizer with Sunrise Pittsburgh, said the key to finding hope in the face of climate change is education.
“If you educate yourself about social movements, you will learn that this is how change is made in America and across the world,” she said.
The climate clock is ticking down the roughly seven years left until the 2030 deadline, but it’s also keeping track of “lifelines.” Those positive factors include the amount of renewable energy that makes up the global energy mix, money contributed to the Green Climate Fund, and the total area of land managed by Indigenous people.
The clock was created by a group of activists to illustrate the urgency of climate change. Though not the first climate clock created, the group launched its version in Sept. 2020 in New York City’s Union Square. The group now provides synchronized clocks to climate activists around the world.
To calculate the deadline, the clock uses the IPCC’s carbon budget set in 2021 and data from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change. The lifelines are projected using data from the open-source database Our World In Data, the Green Climate Fund, and a 2021 report on Indigenous land published by the World Wildlife Fund, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the Landmark Global Platform for Indigenous and Community Lands.
Climate Convergence organizer Karen Feridun said the clock will stay in the capitol until the end of the legislative session, at the end of this year.
“We are going to be here for sustained and escalating actions until this government listens, until they will hear us,” she said.
This story is produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among WESA, The Allegheny Front, WITF and WHYY.
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