carbon counter offers real-time global emissions data

New Yorkers are to receive real-time information on the rising level of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere, via a giant 70-feet-tall digital billboard outside Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

The billboard, which is being touted as the world's first scientifically valid, real-time indicator of carbon emissions, was officially unveiled yesterday by Deutsche Bank's Asset Management division and a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

At the unveiling, the billboard showed there are currently 3.64 trillion tonnes of long-lived greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that the figure is rising by 800 metric tonnes a second.

The data will also be made available online and people are being invited to download a widget that allows them to install the counter on their desktop or company web site.

Speaking following the launch of the counter, Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Bank's Asset Management division, said the aim of the new counter was to provide a tangible reminder of the impact of climate change.

"We cannot see greenhouse gases, so it is easy to forget that they are accumulating rapidly," he said. "It will be a huge task to bring global emissions under control and my hope is that putting this data in public view will spur both governments and markets to move us more quickly to a low-carbon economy."

MIT's John Reilly said the counter would lag slightly behind real time as the rate of increase in emissions would be based on data collected on a monthly basis. He also confirmed that the effect of seasonal variations had been stripped out from the data to give a better picture of the underlying rate of interest.

But he insisted that with the counter drawing on measurements from dozens of atmospheric stations around the world, it presented the most up-to-date information on greenhouse gas emissions.

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