3.2.5 Final remarks

Prevention has to become the central objective of Earth system tipping point governance, as a means to defend and promote achievement of other societal objectives like the SDGs. Prevention efforts need to distinguish between multiple drivers of tipping processes at different scales, including non-climate drivers. Governance needs to address all types of drivers, operate on multiple scales of the international system, and consider cross-scale dynamics and challenges in a polycentric fashion. Each tipping system and each driver of tipping requires a distinct approach, likely involving different institutions, actors and solutions. However, equitable mitigation is an indispensable and overarching tool that is vital to reduce risks in nearly all tipping elements.

Given the important role of global temperature increase as a key driver for many Earth system tipping processes, rapidly strengthening current global climate change mitigation efforts will be essential for successful prevention efforts, including boosting efforts to reduce SLCPs. Their aim should be to minimise the magnitude and length of global temperature overshoot periods beyond the global temperature goals, which requires careful reconsideration of mitigation pathways. Carbon dioxide removal could also help reduce the primary drivers of climate tipping, but is slow and difficult to scale, risks deterring or slowing other mitigation, and some methods could add to other drivers of Earth system tipping. Policy should seek to increase sustainable capacities for carbon dioxide removal as an addition to mitigation efforts, while minimising deterrence effects and potential side-effects on other tipping drivers.

Several existing institutional arrangements for climate mitigation provide opportunities for prevention efforts regarding tipping points. These include the Paris Agreement (especially NDCs, the GST and periodic review of the long-term goal) and related national decarbonisation efforts, but also other international or transnational institutions. 

While there are some limited indications that solar geoengineering might have beneficial impacts on the drivers of some tipping points, they remain speculative with profound technical and political gaps in understanding, and based on limited, largely technocratic analysis. Currently, solar geoengineering is not technologically available to implement safely with a short ramp-up time. Political uncertainties cannot be eliminated through further research, assessment or monitoring. Expectations that solar geoengineering might be deployed to avoid tipping points would carry a risk of deterring or slowing mitigation. For the time being, they are not available to support prevention efforts. In any case, such approaches could at most complement, but not replace, mitigation.

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