‘Discourses of climate delay’ pervade current debates on climate action. These discourses accept the existence of climate change, but justify inaction or inadequate efforts. In contemporary discussions on what actions should be taken, by whom and how fast, proponents of climate delay would argue for minimal action or action taken by others. They focus attention on the negative social effects of climate policies and raise doubt that mitigation is possible. Here, we outline the common features of climate delay discourses and provide a guide to identifying them.