Table 2.

The candidates for social tipping elements for rapid decarbonization identified by expert elicitation

Candidates for social tipping elementsKey actors able to influence the control parameterMain control parameterExamples of interventionsCritical threshold in the control parameter
Climate policy enforcementInternational agencies, national and local governments, political elites, industry, NGOs, business, the publicThe number of regulations restricting the use of fossil fuelsA global environmental court; producer responsibility and circular economy; limiting the use of fossil fuels sector by sector; banning advertisement of fossil-fuel products; abolishing the trade in fossil fuelsEliminating the use of fossil fuels from most of sectors and spheres of human life
n* = 42 (20%); Conf.=3
Information feedbackScientific community, media, citizen organizations, industryThe share of products and services containing GHG emission informationAdequate information on emissions of products and services; labeling; growing awareness of global risks and health consequencesThe GHG emissions information visible for most of products and services
n = 37 (17%); Conf.=3
Financial marketInternational agencies, national and local governments, financial sector, industryMarket value of fossil-fuel extraction and industryCarbon taxes and permits; Divesting; reinvesting; national banks warning commercial banks to reduce risk with carbon-intensive investmentsThe market value decreasing rapidly in comparison with other comparable investments
n = 26 (12%); Conf.=3.6
Energy production and storageConventional and green industries, national and local governments, NGOs, public–private partnershipsThe relative price of fossil-fuel–free energy production and storageCessation of subsidies for fossil-fuel technologies; decentralized and distributed energy generation; renewable energy deployment; community energy hubs; nuclear energy deploymentThe price of fossil-fuel–free energy becoming lower than the price of fossil-fuel energy
n = 24 (11%); Conf.=3.8
Knowledge systemIntellectual leaders, scientific community, mediaThe number of people having worldviews accounting for socioecological complexitiesReconceptualization of economics and valuation measures; convincing narratives of what can be gained from decarbonization; indigenous approaches to natureThe worldviews spreading from the minority to the majority of key actors
n* = 16 (7,7%); Conf.=3.7
Other technologyIndustry, governments, media, agro-industryEnergy demandDigitalization of the economy; tele-working; e-mobility; artificial meat; multipurpose farm-pondsEnergy demand reduced to a level that can be sustainably produced
n = 15 (7%); Conf.=4
Values and normsSpiritual leaders, media, young generation, middle classThe perception of fossil fuels as immoralA new set of moral and ethical codes; revealing the moral implications of fossil fuels, stigmatization of fossil fuelsSpreading from the minority to the majority of key actors
n = 12 (6%); Conf.=3
Human settlementsIndustry, city authorities, governmentsThe demand for fossil-fuel–free technologyReallocation and redesigning of human settlements; energy independent housing; new building materials; carbon-neutral citiesFossil-fuel–free technology becoming the first choice in new infrastructure projects
n = 10 (5%); Conf.=3.7
LifestylesFood and car industry, writers, wealthy fashionable people, mediaNumber of people choosing fossil-fuel free productsVegetarian diets; lower consumption; fossil-fuel free consumptionSpreading from the minority to the majority of the population
n = 10 (5%); Conf.=3.7
Citizenship involvementCivic and nonprofit organizations, media, the publicCitizenship commitment to climate mitigationGrassroots organizing resistance; a global network of social movementsFrom a minor tendency to a global citizen movement
n = 7 (3.8%); Conf.=3.1
Education systemScientists, teachers, educational ministriesThe presence of climate change and relevant concepts in the public educationNew educational programs at all levels of public education including climate change, ecological networks, system thinkingThe relevant concepts becoming a part of the main curriculum
n = 5 (2.4%); Conf.=3.2
Population controlPolitical leaders, religious organizationsThe number of greenhouse gas emittersLimiting human population growthPopulation decreasing to a number that can be sustainably supported
n = 3 (1.4%); Conf.=2.3
  • * n: The frequency of survey answers is referring to the number of the survey answers refereeing to this topical area and a share (percentage) of total survey answers.

  • Conf.: How confident are you that the associated social tipping point is actually going to take place and contribute substantially to a rapid and complete global decarbonization by 2050? 1, Very uncertain; 2, uncertain; 3, rather uncertain, 4, rather confident; 5, confident; 6, very confident.