To learn more about the creative process and team behind Climate Clock visit:
We all now know that the global average temperature passing the threshold of 2° is the point where really bad things start to happen… and it becomes much more difficult to slow down the devastating effects of climate change. But if you look online and in the media, it’s very hard to find a good reference for when 2° will actually happen. Presently, the 2° target floats abstract in the public mind. The Countdown 2° Clock acts a public line in the sand and says, “This is the date”. It will act as a measuring stick by which we can evaluate our progress.
Each year, a week before Earth Day, the clock will be stopped. A group of the leading climate scientists from around the world will evaluate the latest data; and then, on Earth Day, restart the clock with a new time. We will be able to see how we are doing in relation to 2°. Have we gained time or lost time?
Humanity has the power to add time to the clock…but, only if we work collectivity and measure our progress against defined targets.
The clock lives online at www.countdown2degrees.com.
If you would like to display the Clock on your website or as a building or conference projection please email us at:
The Clock can be embedded on any website as an iframe. For outdoor building projections or at conferences the clock can be downloaded as a simple Google Chrome app and played on any computer running the latest version of Chrome (no internet connection is required as the Clock’s date and time validated by the internal date and time of the computer.) We can easily customize the clock to any language but presently it runs in French and English.
In Phase 2 will focus on building an interactive companion website with touchable data all related to time. It will allow the user to manipulate the relevant data points and explore the relationship between the factors that effect the date of 2° through a interactive graphic interface. How much will the agreements made at COP21 move the date of 2º? (The answer: only 6 years!) How does consuming meat move the date of 2º by country? This relationship between temperature and time is crucial in the story of climate change but has been largely missing from the narrative.
We don’t measure our lives in degrees. We measure our lives in years. Time is the key data point we need to include to make climate change relatable.
David Usher is an artist, best selling author and founder of Human Impact Lab.
Dr. Damon Matthews is Associate Professor and Concordia University Research Chair (Climate Science and Sustainability) in the Department of Geography Planning and Environment.
Emmanuel Sévigny • Playmind Creative Studio specialized in the conception, realization and development of digital media.
Mr Prem Sooriyakumar Knowledge Broker, Concordia University
Paul Simard • Principal Director, Faculty of Arts and Science Concordia University
Dr. Carmela Cucuzzella is an assistant professor in the Design and Computation Arts department at Concordia University
David Oram • Future Earth
Jean-Patrick Toussaint • Ph.D. Chef, Projets Scientifiques David Suzuki Fondation
Marcus Peters • Concordia Student in the department of Sociology and Anthropology
Daniel Horen Greenford, Concordia student in Geography, Planning and Environment
Programmers: Jonathan Gallivan, Waseem Hasan and Adam Davies.
Patrick Watson – The Great Escape
David Usher – Prelude (Acoustic)
David Suzuki Foundation
Climate Reality Project
• David Suzuki Foundation Event
• Centre for Sustainable Development building
• Innovation Summit of Montreal Conference
• Montreal • building at Concordia University Earth Day April 22nd 2016: here
• C2 Montreal Conference – May 24-26 2016
• Vancouver • June 5th, 2016
• Manizales Columbia
• the Arctic Circle
• Multi City Projections planned for COP22 Dec 2016
For more info, or to use the Clock as a projection at your event, contact us at:
The numbers on the clock:
The Countdown 2 Degrees clock shows our best estimate of when global temperature will reach 1.5 and 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures, assuming global CO2 emissions continue to increase following the observed trend of the past five years.
All numbers are estimated relative to the 1861-1880 as the reference temperature for the “pre-industrial” period. This is the earliest period for which we have reliable measurements of global temperature, and is the most common reference period for pre-industrial temperatures used in scientific analyses and policy discussions.
The clock includes the following elements:
1) Tonnes of CO2
This value shows the total accumulated CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning, cement manufacture and land-use change since 1870, based on data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center1,2 combined with the most recent CO2 emissions data from the Global Carbon Project3,4.
2) Global temperature
This number represents the human contribution to global temperature increases observed since 1861-1880. The value shown is consistent with the recently proposed index of human-induced warming5. This index represents the portion of observed temperature change6 that can be attributed to all human drivers of climate change.
3) Time to 2 °C
The projection of the +2 °C date is based on extrapolating the most recent 5-year trend of CO2 emissions, which have increased on average by 1.5% per year since from 2010-2015. Based on this annual rate of increase, total CO2 emissions will increase to 3500 billion tonnes of CO2 on December 16, 2044. 3500 billion tonnes is the best estimate of the total CO2 emissions since 1870 that would produce 2°C of global temperature increase in a scenario of increasing emissions, including the warming contribution from changes in non-CO2 greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions7,8.
4) Time to 1.5 °C
There are very few studies of emissions scenarios that lead to only 1.5 °C of global warming, so there is not yet a scientifically robust best estimate of the total quantity of CO2 emissions that push us past this climate target. We have therefore assumed that temperatures will increase exponentially – which is consistent with the prescribed rate of increase of CO2 emissions – from the current value of human-induced warming (+1°C, occurring in February 2016) to +2°C warming in December 2044. This results in an estimate of +1.5°C warming occurring on July 26, 2032.
Supporting scientific literature and data sources: