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Positive tipping points in a rapidly warming world

This research shows how to identify the required capacities, conditions and potential policy interventions which could lead to the emergence of positive tipping points in various social–ecological systems, in order to keep global warming below 2 °C.

The challenge of meeting the UNFCCC CoP21 goal of keeping global warming ‘well below 2 °C and to pursue efforts towards 1.5 °C’ (‘the 2–1.5 °C target’) calls for research efforts to better understand the opportunities and constraints for fundamental transformations in global systems dynamics which currently drive the unsustainable and inequitable use of the Earth’s resources.

To this end, this research reviews and introduces the notion of positive tipping points as emergent properties of systems–including both human capacities and structural conditions — which would allow the fast deployment of evolutionary-like transformative solutions to successfully tackle the present socio-climate quandary. The authors provide a simple procedural synthesis to help identify and coordinate the required agents’ capacities to implement transformative solutions aligned with such climate goal in different contexts.

The research shows how to identify the required capacities, conditions and potential policy interventions which could eventually lead to the emergence of positive tipping points in various social–ecological systems to address the 2–1.5 °C policy target. The insights are based on the participatory downscaling of global Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) to Europe, the formulation of pathways of solutions within these scenarios and the results from an agent-based economic modelling.

Highlights of the article:

  • The authors review relevance and meaning of positive tipping points to assess the required transformations for achieving the 2–1.5 °C target.
  • A procedural synthesis is introduced to identify potential agent capacities, transformative solutions and policy interventions conducive to positive tipping points.
  • To explore potential positive tipping points the authors use participatory pathways and scenario development and agent-based macroeconomic modelling.

Citation
Tàbara, J.D., Frantzeskaki, N., Hölscher, K., Pedde, ., Kok, K., Lamperti, F., Christensen, J.H., Jäger, J., Berry, P. (2018). Positive tipping points in a rapidly warming world. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 31, 120-129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.01.012.

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Date
April 30, 2018