It is five minutes to midnight on climate change. We will have to alter our trajectory very quickly if we wish to have a good chance of limiting the global average temperature rise to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. That was a goal of the Paris agreement of 2015. Achieving it means drastic reductions in emissions from now. This is very unlikely to happen. That is no longer because it is technically impossible. It is because it is politically painful. We are instead set on running an irreversible bet on our ability to manage the consequences of a far bigger rise even than 2°C. Our progeny will see this as a crime. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is on the implications of warming of just 1.5°C and also on the means by which that might be achieved. It reads like a reductio ad absurdum — a demonstration of the implausibility of its premise. But it makes plain, too, the risks the world runs if this limit is ignored: life will survi...

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