Green recovery

The risks of crossing climate tipping points

16/12/2022 PNG

Evidence suggests that many tipping points may have already been crossed, and that many more will likely be crossed even within the Paris Agreement range of 1.5°C to 2°C warming — with cascading effects.

And as Arctic tundra and boreal wildfires are, for example, driving abrupt permafrost carbon release and boreal forest losses, they are effectively reducing the remaining carbon budget for reaching temperature objectives.

Tipping points are critical thresholds beyond which a system re-organises, often abruptly and irreversibly, and are highly dangerous because they can be crossed so fast that humans and natural systems are unable to adapt.

But climate projections have only recently started to consider how tipping points may come to threaten the number and shapes of possible emissions pathways towards 1.5°C.

Furthermore, current adaptation efforts, which prioritise near-term climate risk reduction, are not commensurate with tipping-point risks.

These would necessitate transformational strategies that can drastically cut emissions this decade and scale up technological development and innovation.

See also: Climate Tipping Points: Insights for Effective Policy Action