‘Super tipping points’ can trigger a cascade of climate action | Climate crisis

Three “super tipping points” for climate action could trigger a cascade of decarbonization across the global economy, according to a report.

Experts said that relatively small policy interventions in electric cars, vegan alternatives to meat and green fertilizers will lead to unstoppable growth in these sectors.

But the boost this gives to batteries and hydrogen production will mean crucial complementary benefits for other sectors including energy storage and aviation.

Urgent emissions cuts are needed to avoid irreversible climate collapse and experts say super tipping points are the fastest way to advance global action, offering “reasonable hope” that a rapid transition to a green economy can happen in time.

Tipping points occur when a zero-carbon solution becomes more competitive than the current high-carbon option. Increased sales lead to cheaper products, creating feedback loops that drive exponential growth and rapid acquisition. The report, launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said the three super tipping points would reduce emissions in sectors covering 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Swift action is vital to help avoid triggering catastrophic tipping points in the climate system. Scientists recently said that global warming has pushed the world to the brink of multiple tipping points with global impacts, including the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet and a major current in the North Atlantic.

“With time running out, there is a need to target actions,” said Mark Meldrum of Systemic Consulting, which produced the report with partners including the University of Exeter, UK. He said that each super-turning point passed increases the chance that the others will cross. “It could set in motion a chain to keep us away from climate catastrophe.”

The report says the tipping point for electric vehicles is very close as sales are on the rise. The report adds that setting dates around the world for the end of sales of fossil fuel vehicles, such as the 2030 date set for new vehicles by the UK and 2035 in China, is driving further growth.

This expansion means that used batteries will become cheaper and can be deployed as storage for wind and solar power, further accelerating the growth of renewables. More green energy means lower electricity bills, which makes heat pumps more cost effective.

The second super point is to define the powers of green fertilizers to replace the current fertilizers that are produced from fossil gas. Ammonia is a major ingredient and can be made from hydrogen produced by renewable energy, combined with nitrogen from the air.

The report says that governments that require an increased proportion of fertilizers to be environmentally friendly will lead to increased production and lower costs in green hydrogen production. Then that supports long-distance aviation and shipping, and steel production, which will rely on hydrogen to end carbon emissions. States are being considered with India, for example, targeting 5% green fertilizer production by 2023-2024 and 20% by 2027-2028.

The third super point is to help alternative proteins beat animal proteins on cost, while matching them at least on taste. Meat and dairy account for about 15% of global emissions. The report says public purchases of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives by government departments, schools and hospitals can be a powerful lever.

Increasing uptake would reduce emissions from livestock and reduce forest destruction of pasture land. The report estimated that a 20% market share by 2035 would mean that 400-800 million hectares of land would no longer be needed for livestock and their feed, equivalent to 7-15% of the world’s agricultural land today. This land can then be used to restore forests and wildlife, and remove carbon dioxide2 From the air.

Turning points already passed within the countries include electric vehicle sales in Norway and the decline in coal-fired electrification in the United States in the past decade.

“We need to find and trigger positive socioeconomic tipping points if we are to reduce the risk of damaging climate tipping points,” said Professor Tim Linton from the University of Exeter. “This non-linear way of thinking about the climate problem provides reasonable grounds for hope: the more investment is made in social and economic transformation, the faster it will spread – getting the world to drop net greenhouse gas emissions sooner.”

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