An international research team has called for a more sober discourse around climate change prospects, following an extensive reassessment of climate change’s progress and its mitigation.

They argue that climate change models have understated potential warming’s speed and runaway potential, while the models that relate climate science to consequences, choices and policies have understated the scope for practical mitigation against it. Policymakers are becoming aware of the former bias but seldom perceive the latter.

Their study is published today in Environmental Research Letters. Lead and corresponding author Dr. Amory Lovins, from Rocky Mountain Institute, Colorado, said: “The IPCC’s 2018 Special Report is a stark and bracing reminder of climate threats. We know focussed and urgent action to combat climate change is still essential. But our findings show that both despair and complacency are equally unwarranted.

“We found that, while climate change models have understated potential warming, the models used to guide policy makers have understated the scope for practical, let alone profitable, mitigation against it.

“Indeed, since 2010, and despite the past three years’ disappointing slowdown in energy savings, global decarbonisation has accelerated to trend on course (averaged over the past three years) to achieve the Paris 2 C target. Large gains from energy efficiency have been underemphasized and modern renewable heat—decarbonising about as much as solar power plus windpower—has generally been overlooked altogether.”