The purpose of the special issue is to review and advance the state of the art of research on tipping points – spanning Earth system tipping points to social tipping points – and to provide underpinning content for the first "Tipping Points Status Report" for COP28 (November 2023). The special issue proposal arises from the "Tipping Points: From Climate Crisis to Positive Transformation" international conference hosted by the Global Systems Institute (GSI) and University of Exeter (12–14 September 2022), as well as the associated creation of a Tipping Points Research Alliance by GSI and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research. It is also inspired by growing worldwide interest in tipping points.
There is a need for improved assessment of both tipping point risks and positive tipping point opportunities. Whilst the recent sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began to consider tipping points in the climate system, there is a clear need for a more comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of tipping points across climate and social–economic systems (i.e. all three working groups of IPCC). Positive tipping point opportunities are not widely recognized but could have huge leverage.
The aim of the special issue (and associated "Tipping Points Status Report") is to produce a ground-breaking state-of-knowledge synthesis of tipping point research. We see an important niche for a special issue on the state of both "bad" and "good" tipping points in relation to climate change. The physical science element would update the status of climate and Earth system tipping points. The impacts and adaptation element would update tipping points across climate–ecological–social systems and their cascading interactions. The mitigation element would update the positive tipping points of transformative social–technological–ecological change.