The world is destined for dangerous climate change this century – with global temperatures possibly rising by as much as 6C – because of the failure of governments to find alternatives to fossil fuels, a report by a group of economists has concluded.
It will now be almost impossible to keep the increase in global average temperatures up to 2100 within the 2C target that scientists believe might avert dangerous and unpredictable climate change, according to a study by the accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
An analysis of how fast the major world economies are reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels suggests that it may already be too late to stay within the 2C target of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it found.
To keep within the 2C target, the global economy would have to reach a "decarbonisation" rate of at least 5.1 per cent a year for the next 39 years. This has not happened since records began at the end of the Second World War, according to Leo Johnson, a PwC partner in sustainability and climate change.
"Even doubling our current rate of decarbonisation would still lead to emissions consistent with 6C of warming by the end of the century. To give ourselves a more than 50 per cent chance of avoiding 2C will require a sixfold improvement in our rate of decarbonisation," he said.
"It's time to plan for a warmer world … We have passed a critical threshold," he said.
"This isn't shock tactics, it's simple maths. We're heading into uncharted territory for the scale of transformation and technical innovations required. Whatever the scenario, or response, business as usual is not an option."