Positive tipping points in a rapidly warming world

J. David Tàbara, Niki Frantzeskaki, Katharina Hölscher, Simona Pedde, Kasper Kok, Francesco Lamperti, Jens H. Christensen, Jill Jäger, Pam Berry

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


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. Our research provides 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. Our 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. Our 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-129
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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