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by Emma Foehringer Merchant
October 19, 2018

The world only has 12 years to figure out how to keep temperatures from rising less than 1.5°C.

What happens if we creep toward 2°C? Tens of millions more people will live in water-stressed regions; plant species would be twice as likely to decline; and corals would almost completely die out.

That’s the topline takeaway from a report published last week by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to assess how the globe can avoid catastrophic warming.

The report’s authors, all 91 of them, analyzed various scenarios that would avoid the worst impacts of a warming world. The "mid-range" pathways required renewables to provide 70 to 85 percent of electricity by 2050.

The reality today is very different. Solar and wind now make up 7 percent of the global power market, according to Wood Mackenzie. Overall, the world is significantly behind goals set out by the study’s authors. Meeting them, according to a co-chair of one of the IPCC’s working groups, “would require unprecedented changes.”

In this column, we look at how reality compares with the IPCC's scenarios.