April 21, 2021

Glasgow and DC “Climate Clocks” send message to Biden and global leaders in advance of Earth Day: #ActInTime!

Climate Clock light projection launches in Glasgow as youth climate activists head to DC to deliver portable clocks to top Biden officials, and demand real climate action 

The Leaders Summit on Climate will take place on April 22nd and aims to underscore the urgency of immediate and stronger climate action.  It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

A global petition will be delivered to Joe Biden and world leaders urging them to drastically increase emissions reduction targets in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius – by doing what the science demands, to stop funding fossil fuels and to get serious about the transition to renewable energy and ensure that no one is left behind. 

As part of the day of actions leading up to the summit, campaigners from 350.org, Build Back Fossil Free coalition, Movement Catalyst and Fossil Free Bailout are delivering the Climate Clock to the Biden summit as a reminder that we are in a climate emergency and the time to act is now.  The climate clock, which has been on display in New York, Union Square is a reminder of the urgent need to take climate action now.

Glasgow City Council and UK youth climate activists  light-projected a CLIMATE CLOCK onto Glasgow’s landmark Tolbooth Steeple. Like its counterpart in Union Square, New York, the Glasgow CLIMATE CLOCK will count down the time until the threshold of carbon emissions for 1.5 degrees of warming is exceeded, and show the percentage of the world’s energy that is generated from renewable sources. It will run continuously every night for the six months from Earth Day until the COP26 begins, turning the eyes of the world to the upcoming UN Summit in November.

Graham Hogg, CLIMATE CLOCK’s Glasgow Team

“As Glasgow prepares to host COP26, the Tolbooth Steeple is the perfect location for Glasgow’s CLIMATE CLOCK. “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.”

Laura Berry, CLIMATE CLOCK Research Lead

“The science is clear: we are in a climate emergency. With its deadline and new lifeline, the CLIMATE CLOCK makes explicit the speed and scope of action that political leaders must take in order to limit the worst impacts of climate devastation.”

Thanu Yakupitiyage, 350.org US Communications Director: 

“By using the Climate Clock as a tool, we are pressuring world governments to take bold action for a just recovery from the compound crisis our communities are facing from COVID-19, climate impacts, and racial and economic injustice.  President Biden fulfilled his promise to cancel the Keystone XL permit, a massive Indigenous-led movement victory thanks to millions of people demanding an end to fossil fuels. Biden must now follow through to protect our communities by stopping all new fossil fuel projects — beginning with Line 3 and Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s time for Biden to be a real Climate President, show the world how serious the U.S. is about keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and lead by example on the world stage.  Biden needs to go beyond promises and take immediate action to stop the bad, build the good, and repair the harm. “

James Miller, 19-year-old, UK youth climate activist
“1.5 degrees is our global beacon for climate action. The safety and wellbeing of millions of people depends on keeping below it. But it is slipping from our grasp; in order to keep that target in sight, we need to reduce global emissions by more than 50% by 2030. Existing pledges from world leaders fall far short of what the science demands. It is vital that the UK government leads the charge as host of COP26, but currently, the glaring disparity between their climate-leading rhetoric and half-hearted action to tackle emissions domestically is damaging international ambition.

If they hope to lead the world to success at this critical climate summit, they need to end their hypocrisy immediately and get back on track to meeting their targets. That means stopping polluting infrastructure projects, airport expansions and new fossil fuel exploration. And, importantly, it means aligning policy and sector targets with their national target, together with the spending needed to meet them.

This year, at COP26, world leaders have a crucial – perhaps final – chance to unite in pulling 1.5 degrees back within reach, and keep their promise to safeguard future generations. The world’s youth are watching, and we will not accept failure as an option.”

Agnes Hall, Global Campaigns Director at 350.org said 

“There can be no meaningful climate action if world leaders don’t make a decisive move to keep all fossil fuels in the ground. The Biden Summit is a critical meeting of world leaders ahead of COP26 this November. Talk of “net-zero” won’t cut it: we demand more from our world leaders than false promises, false solutions and empty negotiations at Biden’s Climate Summit. The task now is to hold politicians to their lofty words,  and to do that the global climate movement needs to keep up the pressure on our governments at home as well as on the international stage to take urgent action now to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a Just Recovery by creating a sustainable, fossil-free world ”. 

Asad Rehman: COP26 coalition 

Billions around the world face a daily struggle to survive in the face of a worsening climate crisis, a never ending crisis of inequality and a global health pandemic – with millions denied access to life-saving vaccines. Tinkering around the edges of a broken system will simply be a death sentence for them. Fixing the climate crisis requires more than simply cutting carbon; we need bold action that meets these challenges and puts us on a pathway to a fairer and safer planet for everyone.”

“The window is rapidly closing to prevent even more loss of lives and livelihoods. It’s only fair that the richest countries who have done the most to cause these crises, lead the way and put forward plans to decarbonise by 2030 and to meet their obligations to help developing countries with real financial pledges.”

Joseph Sikulu 350.org 

“In a world recovering from COVID-19 and the climate crisis, governments need to quickly divest from the fossil fuel industry and begin investing in a just recovery for all. Countries with high emissions, such as the United States and Australia, must stop subsidizing oil, gas and coal and direct their investments toward clean and just renewable energy so that we can limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees.”


Notes for Editors 

Climate Clock 

The Lifeline and Deadline on the CLIMATE CLOCK tell us what we need to do, by when. There is still time to avert climate disaster, but only if we take bold, immediate action at the speed and scale necessary – beyond what politicians have deemed politically possible. The Climate Emergency is here. The next 7 years is humanity’s best window to enact bold, transformational changes in our global economy to avoid raising global temperature above 1.5ºC, a point of no return that science tells us will make the worst climate impacts likely inevitable. The DEADLINE on the clock alerts us to the critical time window we have left to take the most meaningful action to limit global warming. The new LIFELINE on the clock shows the percent of global energy coming from renewable sources – wind, water, solar, and bioenergy. The Renewable Energy Lifeline is currently at 12.2% and rising. However, it is not rising nearly fast enough to meet our deadline. The science behind the clock.

History of Tolbooth Steeple

The Tolbooth Steeple was designed in 1625 by John Boyd and constructed in 1626/27, the steeple forms a focal point for the city. It was here that important proclamations were read out to the people of Glasgow, a vital means of communication during a time when literacy rates were very low. For those who could read, a reading room provided access to newspapers. And as the terminus for stagecoaches from Edinburgh and London, this is where visitors brought news to Glasgow from elsewhere across the realm.

The Tolbooth Steeple is an iconic Glasgow structure, which for hundreds of years has formed an important landmark in the city, a point of convergence, communication and information. It both tells, and has stood the test of, time. It is a relic of our pre-industrial past and bore witness to the entire industrial revolution from the heart of one of the cities at its forefront.

As Glasgow prepares to host COP26, the Tolbooth Steeple is the perfect location for a climate clock. It harks back to the Steeple’s original function as a location for mass communication; it stands at the convergence point where people from all points on the compass entered the city; and it is unmistakably Glasgow.