US climate scientist optimistic about the world's chances to fight climate change

There's no denying it anymore: we're in a climate crisis, and whether it's fossil fuels, deforestation, or burping cows, the culprit is us.

Today, there's news of massive ice losses in Greenland that can't be reversed, which will lift sea levels around 30 centimetres. A 2015 Parliamentary commission warned that such a sea rise for New Zealand would mean we'd get hit by a 100-year-storm, like the one we had in 2013, every single year.

The year's weather reports have been even scarier. We've seen wildfires, drought, floods, and typhoons across the globe.

It can all get pretty overwhelming, and it's easy to feel there's nothing we can do to change it. However, that's not how leading climate scientist Jonathan Foley feels.

He's actually optimistic.

"A lot of countries, between 20 and 30 big nations around the world, have hit their peak emissions and are going down," Foley told The Project on Tuesday night.

"We're not going down fast enough yet, but we're beginning to see some of the curves bend in the right direction for the first time."

Foley said he had been quite pessimistic for decades, but there are now heaps of reasons why his outlook has turned sunny.

"The unveiling of renewable energy sources like solar and wind, which are now cheaper than fossil fuels in most of the world."

And it's not just the high-tech sector helping out; the world's biggest players are finally getting the message.

"We're seeing a lot of governments and private sector actors put billions of dollars into climate solutions."

Sure, that's fine if you're a president, prime minister, or Silicon Valley CEO, but there are also plenty of things the rest of us can do, too. One of the biggest: vote with your wallet.

"I don't think of it as a guilt trip but more of a power trip," Foley said.

"Whether it's through retirement savings or where our bank accounts are held... why would we give money to interests that fund fossil fuel companies, for example?"

Instead, he advised to put your money into places that can help other people and the planet.

The US-based scientist is excited to see old climate activists like him now passing the baton to the younger generation. But you don't have to be an 'activist' to make a difference.

"It's not just about activism, it's about being active," Foley told The Project.

"Every job is a climate job. We can find ways to build healthy communities, have a prosperous economy... and have a healthy planet to pass on to future generations."

Folley said he's optimistic the decisions we make now can to a healthier, safer world.

"We not only can do all those things, we must do all those things if we want to thrive."