26 January 2023 15:00-16:30 CET

Climate Tipping Points: how to tip society, not the planet

Join AIMES, the Earth Commission, Future Earth, and the WCRP Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity for a webinar on social tipping points as part of a series that aims to advance the knowledge about tipping points, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system.


Moderated by Ruth Townend (Chatham House).

Please see the recording below.

Back to series overview.


Dr. David Armstrong McKay
Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter & Stockholm Resilience Centre

David Armstrong McKay is a research Impact Fellow at the University of Exeter & Global Systems Institute, working on understanding and enhancing Earth system and socio-ecological resilience. He completed his PhD in Ocean and Earth Science on Earth system modelling of palaeoclimate disruptions at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, followed by postdocs on ecological resilience, agro-ecological systems, and climate-biosphere feedbacks at the University of Southampton and Stockholm Resilience Centre. His research uses numerical modelling and analysis to investigate Earth system resilience in the past and future, including climate-biosphere feedbacks and tipping points, dynamics and indicators of ecological resilience, and pathways to socio-ecological system transformation. Current projects involve leading the ‘State of Tipping Points’ report section on the current status and state of knowledge on Earth system tipping points, and helping the Earth Commission set safe and just Earth system boundaries for climate change and nutrient cycle disruption. He is also a keen science communicator, synthesising and explaining topics like climate science, ecology, and tipping points for the wider public.

Read more

Llyod Pinnell

Lloyd Pinnell is an associate at Systemiq, a leading systems change consultancy working to deliver on the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. Lloyd works in the Energy and Sustainable Finance platforms, advising investors, companies, and governments on strategies to reach net-zero emissions and to unlock opportunities from the transition. Lloyd recently co-authored the Breakthrough Effect, a report exploring the potential to trigger tipping points in the deployment of zero-carbon solutions to decarbonise the highest-emission sectors of the economy. This follows on from the Paris Effect reports series, which examined how global climate agreements are fundamentally reshaping the global economy.

    Read more

    All you need to know

    This event is part of a series of online discussions aims to advance the knowledge about tipping elements, irreversibility, and abrupt changes in the Earth system. It supports efforts to increase consistency in treatment of tipping elements in the scientific community, develop a research agenda, and design joint experiments and ideas for a Tipping Element Model Intercomparison Project (TipMip).

    This discussion series is a joint activity of the Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) global research project of Future Earth, the Earth Commission Working Group 1 Earth and Human Systems Intercomparison Modelling Project (EHSMIP) under the Global Commons Alliance and the Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity of World Climate Research Program (WCRP).


    Organized by

    Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES)

    The Analysis, Integration, and Modeling of the Earth System (AIMES) project is an international network of Earth system scientists and scholars that seek to develop innovative, interdisciplinary ways to understand the complexity of the natural world and its interactions with human activities. AIMES is a global research project of Future Earth.

    Earth Commission

    The Earth Commission is a major scientific assessment, hosted by Future Earth, to define a safe and just corridor for people and planet. The Commission will inform the creation of science-based targets, the “1.5-degree equivalents”, to help maintain and protect critical global commons – our shared climate, land, biodiversity, freshwater, atmosphere and oceans. The Earth Commission is an international team of leading natural and social scientists and five working groups of additional experts. It forms the scientific cornerstone of the Global Commons Alliance.

    Future Earth

    Future Earth is a global network of scientists, researchers, and innovators collaborating for a more sustainable planet. Future Earth initiates and supports international collaboration between researchers and stakeholders to identify and generate the integrated knowledge needed for successful transformations towards societies that provide good and fair lives for all within a stable and resilient Earth system. Future Earth is the host of the Earth Commission.

    International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

    International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)is an international research institute that advances systems analysis and applies its research methods to identify policy solutions to reduce human footprints, enhance the resilience of natural and socioeconomic systems, and help achieve the sustainable development goals.

    Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

    The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is advancing the frontier of integrated research for global sustainability, and for a safe and just climate future. A member of the Leibniz Association, the institute is based in Potsdam, Brandenburg and connected with the global scientific community. Drawing on excellent research, PIK provides relevant scientific advice for policy decision-making. The institute’s international staff of about 400 is led by a committed interdisciplinary team of Directors.

    University of Exeter, Global Systems Institute

    The Global Systems Institute (GSI) is thought-leading in understanding global changes, solving global challenges and helping create a flourishing future world together, through transformative research, education and impact. GSI's aim is to work with others to secure a flourishing future for humanity as an integral part of a life-sustaining Earth system. GSI's aim to be a ‘go to’ place for global change researchers from around the world, bringing them together with industry, policymakers, students and other stakeholders to tackle shared problems, and acting as a catalyst that enables translation of this research into applications that deliver tangible and sustainable social and ecological benefit.

    WCRP Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity.

    The Safe Landing Climates Lighthouse Activity is an exploration of the routes to “safe landing” spaces for human and natural systems. It will explore future pathways that avoid dangerous climate change while at the same time contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those of climate action, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, and healthy ecosystems above and below water. The relevant time scale is multi-decadal to millennial.

    World Climate Research Programme

    The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) leads the way in addressing frontier scientific questions related to the coupled climate system — questions that are too large and too complex to be tackled by a single nation, agency or scientific discipline. Through international science coordination and partnerships, WCRP contributes to advancing our understanding of the multi-scale dynamic interactions between natural and social systems that affect climate.