According to a comprehensive analysis by the International Energy Agency, the point of no return on climate change is fast approaching. Either we halt it in five years, or … well, imagine I'm drawing my finger across my throat while making a "kkkkkhhhhhh" sound.
Basically, any fossil fuel infrastructure that goes up in the next five years — we're looking at you, Keystone XL, but also power plants and factories and inefficient buildings — will have a ripple effect that keeps us from meeting climate goals.
Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this "lock-in" effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world's foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous.
If we're going to keep warming below the "complete catastrophe forever" level, then we need to have no more than 450 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. But if current trends continue, we'll eat up that carbon budget by 2017.
This sounds dire, but … yeah, no. It's just dire. World governments aren't even really trying to have a climate agreement in place by 2017.