NYC Clock Now Tells the Time Remaining for Climate Change 'Deadline'

This is how much time we have left to limit carbon emissions before a critical tipping point is reached.
Derya Ozdemir

New York City is home to a 62-foot-wide electronic clock with a 15-digit display facing Manhattan's Union Square, and anyone lucky enough to have seen the city that never sleeps must have seen the clock peering down on them during their visits. 

This clock is a public art project named Metronome and it counts the hours, minutes, and seconds to and from midnight.

However, as we near the quite possibly the most important deadline of human history, the clock has gotten an update: It now displays the remaining years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds before the climate change deadline.


The public art installation commissioned by real estate firm Related Companies started displaying messages such as "The Earth has a deadline" at around 3:20 PM on Saturday.

Following the statements, the numbers started to changed and eventually displayed the time remaining for the carbon emission deadline: Seven years, 105 days, and 22 hours, as of the time the change occurred, according to the estimates.

What is the carbon emission deadline?

Here is what the carbon emission deadline means: We are on a budget regarding carbon, meaning we can only go so far with greenhouse gas emissions and still have a 67% chance of keeping the world under 2.7°F (1.5°C) of warming.

Once we burn enough carbon, this will warm Earth enough to cause even more climate-related risks to human health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, and economic growth.

These estimates were made by a team from the Mercator Research Institute of Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), which is a Germany-based institute that is primarily concerned with protecting the atmosphere and oceans while conducting studies on global warming.

Artists Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd are behind this makeover and call their work "Climate Clock." The duo had also made a similar clock for Greta Thunberg, one that she could carry around and similar big ones in Berlin and France.

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A message that cannot be ignored

Golan explained to The New York Times, "We felt a monumental challenge like this needed something monumental in scale—a monument. And we also wanted it to be in public, something that you couldn’t push out of sight, out of mind. We wanted something that would bring public attention to the climate on a daily basis, so it’s something that we can’t ignore."

Since keeping global warming under 2.7°F (1.5°C) could mean that we can avoid the worst of climate change, this clock comes as an alarming reminder that we cannot ignore indeed.

The project will be on display until September 27, the end of climate week.

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