Reaching Positive Tipping Points

Positive tipping points – in which change triggers a large shift – are critical to solving climate change. The Bezos Earth Fund is working to ensure the scales are tipped in favor of a brighter future.

A drop of dew rests on a blade of grass. The drop of dew looks like planet earth.
(Photo credit: Thomas Vogel / iStock)

When a tipping point is reached, a system can shift into a new state altogether. Both negative and positive tipping points exist; we can move backward or forward in our fight against climate change.

A negative tipping point can cause the loss of an existing system as it shifts into a new one. Imagine a drought in the Amazon leading to forests tipping to a savannah-like state, in turn reinforcing drought-like conditions. Positive tipping points, on the other hand, can radically accelerate the decarbonization of the global economy when reached.

Achieving price parity between the internal combustion engine and electric vehicles has the power to drive exponential growth in electric vehicle sales. Further, there are links between sectoral tipping points, such that reaching one can help move us closer to a positive market tipping point in another sector. Advancing green or blue hydrogen can dramatically change the calculus for decarbonizing steel, cement, and shipping.

Providing policymakers, investors, and philanthropists with a greater understanding of where such tipping points lie enables us to track our progress toward them and prioritize our investments accordingly. The Bezos Earth Fund is working with a leading coalition of academic experts to synthesize the existing knowledge on tipping points across all sectors, advance a methodology for tracking progress towards tipping points, and produce an annual synthesis report on the state of tipping points.

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