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Social tipping dynamics key to stabilise Earth’s climate by 2050

Buchanan Street, Glasgow (Image by ste92k from Pixabay)
"'Social tipping’ describes the rapidly accelerating process of societal transformation that must replace existing incremental approaches if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided"

Countries around the world must induce ‘social tipping’ dynamics by introducing far-reaching social and technological changes if they are to successfully decarbonise and prevent the devastating consequences of climate change, an international research consortium including the James Hutton Institute argues.

In a study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team examines the potential of ‘social tipping’ interventions to bring about profound changes and help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and proposes a number of urgent actions.

These measures include removing fossil-fuel subsidies and incentivising decentralised energy generation, building carbon-neutral cities, divesting from assets linked to fossil fuels, revealing the moral implications of fossil fuels, strengthening climate education and engagement, and disclosing greenhouse gas emissions information.

Dr Richard Hewitt, an honorary associate of the James Hutton Institute and co-author of the study, said: “Preventing dangerous climate change and its devastating consequences is not just a defining task for humanity but also an indispensable prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.

“’Social tipping’ describes the rapidly accelerating process of societal transformation that must replace existing incremental approaches if catastrophic climate change is to be avoided.  Our research identifies and discusses a number of key social tipping ‘interventions’ that can activate contagious processes of rapidly spreading technologies, behaviours and social norms to bring about the necessary change.

“The study has revealed important areas of focus for larger-scale efforts to better understand the potentials of harnessing social tipping dynamics to mitigate climate change.”

The proposed actions are the result of a survey of over 1,000 international experts in the field of climate change and sustainability, plus a subsequent expert workshop and a literature review.

The paper Social tipping dynamics for stabilizing Earth’s climate by 2050, by Ilona M. Otto, Jonathan F. Donges, Roger Cremades, Avit Bhowmik, Richard J. Hewitt, Wolfgang Lucht, Johan Rockström, Franziska Allerberger, Mark McCaffrey, Sylvanus S. P. Doek, Alex Lenfernal, Nerea Morán, Detlef P. van Vuuren and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, is - as of today - the second most-read article on the PNAS website. 

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, James Hutton Institute, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/social-tipping-dynamics-key-stabilise-earth%E2%80%99s-climate-2050?page=1 on 07/04/20 08:30:46 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.