The world is on the brink of irreversible climate change, according to a report released on Wednesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Called the World Energy Outlook 2011, the analysis is the most thorough ever produced on the effects of releasing fossil fuels into the atmosphere.
According to the research, in five years global warming will hit a point of no return after which it will be impossible to reverse the process.
The report warns that the global economy is building a raft of energy-inefficient factories and power stations that will pump carbon into the air for decades to come.
And without a rapid change to this infrastructure within the next five years, the climate will continue to heat up, regardless of what measures are taken to combat it.
"We are going in the wrong direction in terms of climate change," Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA, told the Associated Press ahead of the report's official release.
Scientist believe that the globe must stay below 2C of warming, with emissions not exceeding 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide.
"After 2017, we will lose the chance to limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius," said Birol.
The planet is already dangerously close to the carbon emissions limit (80%), which will be past within five years if current trends continue.
The report said that current reduction plans would lead to an increase of more than 3.5 degrees Celsius, which would prove "catastrophic".
Recent figures released by the US Department Of Energy suggest that the level of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere has reached record levels.