The clock is ticking: tic, tok, tic, tok …

The carbon clock of MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) shows just how little time is left ’til the average global temperature increases by 1.5 or 2°C (2.7 – 3.4°F) – these are limits for warming which 195 countires signed (Paris Agreement, 2015).  However even at +2°C climate changes will be considerable.



The world’s average temperature increases with atmospheric CO2 concentration (and also with other greenhouse gas concentrations).  Exactly what the temperature will be at certain CO2 concentration is an estimate. Scientists have identified risks for even a small rise in temperature.


Different scenarios are discussed: at the lower left of the carbon clock you may select an estimation (lower, medium or upper) of how much time is left to limit COconcentrations so temperature increases only 2°C (or 3.6°F).  Or click upper right to show the estimation of time remaining to keep temperatures to, or below, 1.5°C (2.7°F), the preferred scenario and limit.

To prevent temperatures rising more than 2°C, we have perhaps ~17 years left, depending on the scenario, to change how we all consume, recycle, develop and use technologies to help achieve that goal.

To keep to a 1.5°C increase, with a lower limit scenario, it’s too late: we reached the CO2 limit in January of 2016.  For an upper limit scenario, by about April 2021 we will have increased temperature by 1.5°C.  But there are many things now and in the future we can do to limit however the temperature increases.