The world is heading in a difficult and dangerous direction. A range of estimates based on current plans and intentions arrive at similar conclusions: at best, global emissions will plateau at around 50 billion tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent per year over the coming decades, with a strong possibility they will go much higher. The scale of the risks from these levels of emissions is immense, with likely changes in climate way beyond the experience of modern civilization.
The overall pace of change is recklessly slow. We are acting as if change is too difficult and costly and delay is not a problem. The rigidity of the processes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the behavior of participants also hinder progress. And the vested interests remain powerful.
Despite the slow overall pace of change, there are strong signs of activity and creativity across the world. And we have learned much over the past decade about the scale of the risks, the technologies required and the economics. Accelerating the pace of change towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy is both feasible and crucial; with the right incentives rapid transformative change is possible, even in capital-intensive sectors such as energy.