Positive tipping points are already underway in areas such as solar power. Credit: Prashanth Vishwanathan, IWMI

A new Hoffmann Fellowship on positive tipping points has been awarded to one of the lead authors of the widely-acclaimed Global Tipping Points Report.

Positive tipping points are thresholds in technology, society and economies that can propel rapid decarbonisation and are regarded by climate scientists as a key source of hope in the climate crisis.

Dr Steven Smith, currently a Tipping Points Research Impact Fellow at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, will explore and broaden the scope of positive tipping points as well as work with industry and policy leaders to help them apply the science of positive tipping points to their operations.

The two-year Hoffmann Impact Fellowship on positive tipping points is a partnership between the University of Exeter and the World Economic Forum.

As an Impact Fellow, Dr Smith will drive collaborative opportunities with both World Economic Forum and University of Exeter partners, with the aim of providing innovative solutions to real-world business and policy challenges.

He will also be part of a team delivering the University of Exeter’s Green Futures Solutions initiative, which aims to maximise the real-world impact of the University’s environmental research through industry and non-academic partnerships.

Dr Smith was one of the lead authors of the recently published Global Tipping Points Report, the most comprehensive assessment of the risks and opportunities of both negative and positive tipping points in the Earth system and society, and the work of more than 200 researchers from over 90 organisations in 26 countries.

Dr Smith said: “I’m delighted to have this unique opportunity to contribute to broaden the scope of positive tipping points and to develop initiatives with leading voices from the private sector, governments, international organizations, philanthropy, civil society, indigenous peoples and academic experts that will help provide solutions to the biggest threats to humanity’s long-term future.”

“Tipping points are part of the greatest threat we face, but can also provide the solution. We have identified some positive tipping points that are already in motion – now we have the chance to accelerate the process.”

Professor Alexandra Gerbasi, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy at the University of Exeter, said: “Positive tipping points are a significant ray of hope that could save millions of lives, as well as save billions of people from hardship and trillions of dollars in climate-related damage.

“I am delighted that Steve has the opportunity to build on his work on positive tipping points through a Hoffmann Fellowship, and am proud the University of Exeter is collaborating with the World Economic Forum on initiatives that will bring about positive outcomes for climate, nature and business.”

Gill Einhorn, Head of Innovation and Transformation at the Centre for Nature and Climate, World Economic Forum, said: “We are looking forward to working with Dr Smith to broaden understanding of positive tipping points and act as a bridge that accelerates their application in high potential areas.

“By hosting a Hoffmann Fellow on Positive Tipping Points at the Forum, we aim to inspire industry and policy makers to harness virtuous cycles of innovation and learn about the dynamics of what makes systems tip towards favourable outcomes for people and the planet.”