In celebration of Climate Week, taking place from September 21-27 2020, the iconic Metronome clock in Union Square in New York is being repurposed as a Climate Clock, a 24-metre-wide digital display that keeps track of the remaining time window to take action on the climate crisis.

This climate clock in New York is intended to be the first of many in major cities across the world, helping government and citizens “synchronise our watches” around a shared global timeline to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

The numbers on the clock- now showing that we have 7 years and 102 days to take urgent action- show the ever-decreasing time window to significantly change our energy systems and economy. Another number tracks the current percentage of renewable energy in the world. With extreme weather events, like wildfires, rising sea levels and drought, the clock communicates the stark reminder that we are running out of time. 

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Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg was involved in the project early on and has been given the first hand-held climate clock ever made. The clock is part of a larger project that includes a website explaining the science behind the climate crisis, an open-source DIY “maker kit” that schools can use to make their own clocks, and a phone app. 

The Climate Clock in New York was assembled by a team of artists, makers, scientists and activists, and is part of the Beautiful Trouble community of projects, according to the website accompanying the clock. The app includes more details about solutions. An interactive tool shows how we can flatten the curve.

Andrew Boyd, the co-founder of the project, says, “The clock is a way to speak science to power. The clock is telling us we must reduce our emissions as much as we can as fast as we can. The technology is there. We can do this- and in the process, create a healthier, more just world for all of us. Our planet has a deadline. But we can turn it into a lifeline.”