Experts warn we have three years to "safeguard our climate"

They call on people around the world to "stay optimistic and act boldly together"

Experts warn we have three years to "safeguard our climate"

File photo. Picture by: Branden Camp/AP/Press Association Images

A group of climate change experts have warned the world has three years to "safeguard our climate".

The experts - including former UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres - have laid out a six-point plan to curb carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

In a commentary in the Nature journal, they state that 2020 is important for a number of reasons, stating: "Should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in [the Paris climate deal] become almost unattainable."

2020 is also the year the United States will be legally able to withdraw from the Paris Accord, with President Trump having announced his intention to do so.

The group acknowledges that its goals may be "idealistic at best, unrealistic at worst" - but argue that focusing on the goals could "unleash ingenuity".

Their plan includes specific goals in six areas: energy, infrastructure, transport, land, industry and finance.

They suggest that the number of electric vehicles should make of at least 15% of new car sales around the world, and for local officials to initiate plans to "fully decarbonise buildings and infrastructures by 2050".

The authors conclude: "There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change. But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together."

There is overwhelming scientific consensus on the human impact on climate change, with consequences including rising global temperatures and sea levels.

A new study, also published in Nature today, warns that climate change could significantly increase - 17,000 square kilometres - the ice-free areas of Antarctica by the end of the century.

That could result in the "extinction of less-competitive species and the spread of invasive species," the authors warn.