How to Understand the UN’s Dire New Climate Report

The new 2.7-degree plan tries to lay out such a strategy. Written by 91 researchers from around the world, it summarizes the findings of more than 6,000 different scientific studies. It argues that humanity must begin rapidly switching away from fossil fuels if it hopes to avoid ecological upheaval. But almost every step of its prescription sits at odds with current policy.

Under the plan, the level of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere every year must begin to fall immediately. (Instead, it hit a record high last year.) By 2030, the world would need to have cut its annual emissions by about half. (Even the Obama administration’s now-canceled climate policies would have cut U.S. emissions only by about a quarter by that year.) By 2050, the world must get 80 percent of its electricity from renewable or nuclear power. (Today, only about 20 percent of electricity comes from those sources.)