Planet Care

122: Mercator Climate Clocks


Clocks have remained limited to telling the time, sometimes indicating the hours, minutes and seconds left before a NewYear. How can they indicate that time is running out?


The Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) in Berlin have developed Carbon Clock which digitally shows how much CO2 can be released into the atmosphere to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C and 2°C, respectively. With just a few clicks, you can compare the estimates for both temperature targets and see how much time is left in each scenario.

The Climate Clock widget

You can get one for your device or website at

Metronome, ticking away since 1999, is a public art installation and digital clock made of large orange LED digits and embedded on the side of a sky scraper at the south end of Union Square in New York City.

In 2020, it was re-programmed as an MCC climate clock by artists Andrew Boyd and Gan Golan to illustrate a critical window for action to prevent the effects of global warming from becoming irreversible.

From Saturday September 19, 2020, to coincide with the beginning of Climate Week in NYC, Metronome started showing the time remaining until the Earth’s carbon budget is used up as a result of concerns related to global warming above the 1.5°C threshold that was outlined in the Paris Agreement.

The fifteen digits counted down the years (1 digit), days (3 digits), hours (2 digits), minutes (2 digits), and seconds (2 digits) from left to right, in conventional 24-hour format with spaces to the left of each digit. It is called a “climate clock”.

The renamed Climate Clock unveiled by artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd warned at 1:30 p.m. Monday that there were 7 years, 101 days, 17 hours, 29 minutes and 22 seconds until Earth’s carbon budget is depleted, based on current emission rates. Golan and Boyd’s first Climate Clock was displayed on September 18, 2019 on a former gasometer in Berlin, Germany. They’ve also made a personal countdown clock for teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg

Based on the amount of carbon used every day (at 2017 levels), 1.5 degrees of warming will occur in about seven and a half years. The Union Square Climate Clock now puts a countdown to that deadline in one of New York’s most public places.

All the more reasons that the solutions to be found on this website should be stepped up.

What you can do: Keep an eye on climate clocks!

Discover Solution 123: an App to monitor threatened raptors

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