The world is on track to see temperature rises of up to 5.3C by the end of the century, the International Energy Agency has warned as it set out swift action governments must take to curb climate change.
A global average temperature rise of 2C from pre-industrial levels is being targeted by the United Nations in what scientists believe would be manageable climate change, avoiding worst-case-scenario increases in droughts, storms, floods and sea levels.
But in a recent report, which outlined a series of measures to reduce emissions using existing technology that would have no net economic cost, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the planet was on course to more than double existing targets.
IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said: "Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite.
"This report shows that the path we are currently on is more likely to result in a temperature increase of between 3.6C and 5.3C, but also finds that much more can be done to tackle energy-sector emissions without jeopardising economic growth, an important concern for many governments."
The IEA said improving energy efficiency in homes, buildings, industry and transport, limiting the use of inefficient coal-fired power stations, reducing methane releases from oil and gas production and removing some fossil fuel subsidies could all help cut emissions.
Together the four steps could reduce emissions by 3.1 billion tonnes (3.1 gigatonnes) by 2020 compared to carrying on with "business as usual", the IEA said.