World has three years left to act on climate change, experts warn

The world has just three years left to reduce carbon dioxide emissions “before it is too late,” a group of climate experts and scientists said on Wednesday.

The warning is a week ahead of the G20 meeting of world leaders in Hamburg.

If annual emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain stable, temperature targets set by the Paris climate agreement will become almost unattainable, the scientists said in an article published in the journal Nature.

The authors identified milestones for 2020 in six sectors — energy, infrastructure, transport, land use, industry and finance — in which significant breakthroughs on emissions reductions could be achieved.

The authors called on leaders at the summit, to be held from July 7-8, to recognise 2020 as a crucial year for setting ambitious targets on climate change and discussing how to ensure a resilient, prosperous, inclusive and interconnected global economy.

“This would pave the way for a year of raised ambition in 2018, when nations take stock of progress and revise national commitments under the Paris Agreement,” they said.

The article – co-signed by 60 scientists, economists and business and policy leaders – is authored by six climate experts, including Christiana Figueres, a former head of the UN framework convention on climate change.

Figueres, the person behind the newly established Mission 2020, a broad-based campaign for urgent action on carbon emissions.

The experts said global emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have levelled in the past three years, after rising for decades, a good sign that climate policies are working.