Positive ‘tipping points’ provide fresh hope for climate, study says

(EurActiv, 11 Jan 2021) Positive “tipping points” in the uptake of electric vehicles and the decarbonisation of electricity generation could spark a global transition to a climate neutral economy, scientists say, providing fresh hope in the fight against global warming.

Tipping points are moments of small change that trigger a large, often irreversible response.

The world is already “dangerously close” to several tipping points that could worsen climate change, warned co-author Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.

But positive changes could help tip the scale, with a small coalition of countries triggering “upward-scaling tipping cascades” to rapidly decrease carbon emissions, according to Lenton and Simon Sharpe, who co-authored a study on the matter, published on 10 January.

“We have left it too late to tackle climate change incrementally,” said Lenton. “Limiting global warming to well below 2°C now requires transformational change, and a dramatic acceleration of progress.”

The Paris Agreement aims to keep global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, but research shows the world has already reached 1.1°C warming.

World nations will need to rapidly decrease their carbon emissions in order to keep the planet well below 2°C and avoid the most catastrophic consequences of global warming, like rising sea levels and increased extreme weather events.

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EurActiv, 11 Jan 2021: Positive ‘tipping points’ provide fresh hope for climate, study says