The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s Special Report was published last week and it all appears very doom and gloom. The essential takeaway is that we MUST limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-Industrial levels to prevent catastrophic damage, 0.5°C below the current target of 2°C.
The science of human-caused climate change is now so stark that even the Trump administration is having to admit it is happening. After months and months of flat-out denial, the White House U-turned, releasing a report in September predicting a 4°C rise in average temperature by the turn of the century if we continue on our current trajectory. But instead of drafting up policy to limit greenhouse gas emissions and fuel renewable energy growth ASAP, they skipped straight to five of Dana Nuccitelli's Five Stages of Climate Denial – saying it's too late to do anything about it.
Except they are wrong. It isn't too late, but we need to act sooner rather than later.
"We should limit climate change as much as possible, as quickly as possible. The report makes clear that even a half-degree increase in warming makes a huge difference – damaging our economy and our future," Keith Gaby, senior communications director at the Environmental Defense Fund, told IFLScience, adding: "We think it is possible to limit warming if we act boldly and quickly."
This means that while there are things that can be done on an individual level to cut down our carbon footprint (more on that later), the big changes will need to be made on a national and international platform. As the biologist and broadcasting veteran David Attenborough told BBC Newsnight earlier this month, we need politicians who "recognize what the danger is" and "will do something difficult".
Some politicians are content to bury their head in the sand when it comes to climate change, but others are happy to take the lead. See Governor Jerry Brown, who has pledged to make California 100 percent renewable by 2045, or Governor of Chungnam, Seung-Jo Yang, who announced that Korea's premier coal province will be shifting to green energy.