We are losing the climate change mitigation challenge. The task now before us: minimize the impacts.
The status of the climate change mitigation challenge is analyzed and summarized. Pressures spawned by industrialization and population growth have driven unsustainable growth in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yielding global warming. Such warming has accelerated over the last three years and for 2016 was 1.3 °C over pre-industrial levels. Serious climate change induced impacts have already occurred and more serious ones are projected. The recent UN Paris COP agreement is only a small step toward meaningful mitigation. It will only slow emission growth and will not lead to near term aggressive annual emission decreases, which are needed to avoid warming of 2 °C or more. We are losing the battle to protect the planet from unacceptable climate change impacts. To minimize the impacts, the following is needed: more aggressive communication of the seriousness of the problem to national leaders and the public, a serious adaptation program, a dramatically expanded RD&D program to accelerate the development of low cost low C technologies, with a focus on potentially transformational technologies, and a serious commitment to peak global emissions as soon as possible and drastically reduce such emissions annually from that point on. A global agreement to set a price on carbon (C) could be effective in helping to achieve such an aggressive emission reduction trajectory.