Glasgow climate clock counting down to environmental catastrophe installed ahead of UN Cop26 summit

Projected display on historic clocktower shows how much time world has to tackle environmental emergency before planet passes tipping point

Harry Cockburn
Tuesday 08 June 2021 01:22
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<p>The Climate Clock is projected onto Glasgow’s Tolbooth Steeple</p>

The Climate Clock is projected onto Glasgow’s Tolbooth Steeple

A clock counting down to irreversible climate change has been installed in Glasgow ahead of the UN’s Cop26 climate summit to draw attention to the increasing urgency required to tackle the crisis.

The clock, projected onto the historic Tolbooth Steeple clock tower, highlights the dwindling amount of time left to cut global emissions in order to prevent average temperatures reaching 1.5C above what they were in the pre-industrial era.

At the time of writing, the clock shows there are just 6 years and 225 days left to meet the climate targets as set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2018 Special Report.

But the clock also offers hope, as it tracks the levels of energy being generated through renewable resources.

“As Glasgow prepares to host Cop26, the Tolbooth Steeple is the perfect location for Glasgow’s Climate Clock,” Graham Hogg, from Climate Clock’s Glasgow Team, said according to the Glasgow Times.

“For centuries, it was here that important proclamations were read out to the people of Glasgow. It stands at the convergence point where people from all points on the compass entered the city; and it is unmistakably Glasgow.”

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: “We are thrilled to welcome the Climate Clock initiative to Glasgow.

“We were delighted that Glasgow was chosen as its next location, and it reinforces our reputation as a leading global city in the climate discussion.

“The team will project a striking climate clock in real-time onto the Tolbooth Steeple and will be a distinct feature in the city, running every night until the beginning of the Cop summit in November.”

In 2018, IPCC researchers estimated humans could release an additional 420Gt of carbon into the atmosphere and still have a 67 per cent chance of limiting warming to 1.5C.

The Climate Clock deadline shows how long there is left until this carbon budget runs out, given the amount of carbon we continue to emit globally.

If average global temperature rise above 1.5C, scientists have warned the planet will see even greater devastating effects, from sea-level rise to loss of coral reefs, more intense heat waves, wildfires, droughts and typhoons.

A similar clock has been in place in New York’s  Union Square since September 2020, showing the same countdown.

“There’s good news. That number isn’t zero,” said Gan Golan, an artist and activist who co-created the display when it was originally installed.

“We can meet this challenge, but we don’t have any time to lose."

The Climate Clock website allows people to apply for their own climate clocks for schools, universities and public and private spaces.

Activist James Miller, who helped set up the Glasgow clock said: “This is one of the most important political events of our lifetimes. It has been described as our ‘last best’ chance to act to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“We must make sure that world leaders use it to increase international ambition to where it needs to be.”

Writing on Twitter he added: The clock’s message is from the science. It is clear and uncompromising. Time is running out. The world’s young people are watching. Governments must act in time.”

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