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Enabling Positive Tipping Points towards clean-energy transitions in Coal and Carbon Intensive Regions

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - (Enabling Positive Tipping Points towards clean-energy transitions in Coal and Carbon Intensive Regions)

Reporting period: 2020-05-01 to 2021-10-31

Supporting clean energy just transitions in coal and carbon-intensive regions (CCIRs) is a priority for the EU’s strategies for climate, sustainable development and to secure long-term jobs creation. The EU-funded TIPPING+ project focuses on the critical concept of social-ecological tipping points (SETPs) to study the role of scientific understanding of social, economic, psychological, cultural, gender and political processes in supporting clean energy transitions in CCIRs. Using interdisciplinary participative social science approach, it will also identify tipping interventions aimed at preventing catastrophic outcomes provoked by crossing irreversible negative ecological or social thresholds including those derived by the rise of populism or anti-democratic attitudes. The project will perform an innovative analysis of the emergence of both positive and negative tipping points. It will advance transition theory, and will focus on the assessment of collective visions and narratives as well as on the required transformative capacities and just policy processes that generate key strategies, solutions and socio-technical innovations leading to systemic transformations in CCIRS towards low-carbon clean energy futures. TIPPING+ has these objectives and WPs:
O1: Identify, quantify, and evaluate different dimensions and indicators in human-geography, social, policy, environmental, and economic domains that characterise the emergence of SETPs in the form of fundamental changes in CCIRs
O2: Explore the key cumulative processes, capacities, and socio-structural forces in CCIRs that lead to positive or negative tipping points in energy transitions considering different regional challenges, opportunities and configurations.
O3: Co-develop socially acceptable regional future visions up to 2030 to support more durable governance arrangements and strategic goals for CCIRs in line with broader goals of the EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework,
O4: Identify critical tipping interventions and devise practical transformation strategies in specific CCIRs to potentially reach future visions and promote regional sustainability learning and awareness of positive tipping points in education, governance, and planning processes.
WP1: Demographic trends and challenges in gender, migration and youth.
WP2: Cultural trends and socio-psychological factors.
WP3: Policy and governance trends and challenges.
WP4: Economic trends and challenges.
WP5: Regional case studies
WP6: Stakeholder engagement, learning, dissemination and outreach
WP7: Integration, synthesis, policy visions and recommendations.
WP8: Management and Coordination
WP9: Ethics requirements
During the first reporting period, progress has been made in all of the major operational objectives of the project, with a focus literature reviews on social-ecological tipping-points by WP1-WP5, creating the first Guidelines and Integration framework for analyses (WP5 & WP7) and carrying out an intensive online communication and outreaching activity (WP6). Regarding the later, a major achievement was the co-organisation of the online International Conference "Transformations 2021. Enabling positive Tipping Points in Uncertain Times" held in 17th-18th of June was co-organised by TIPPING+ partners and attended by over 700 participants.; All deliverables were submitted on time, and with the exception of a couple of milestones regarding the carrying out of stakeholder workshops due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all the milestones were achieved successfully in time. During the first reporting period several public deliverables and peer-reviewed publications have already been produced, covering over 40 dissemination activities regarding peer-reviewed publications, online documents and presentations in international events. Our TIPPING+ website has achieved during this time approximately 9,000 views and 5,000 visitors, while we have generated a total of 58 post on TIPPING+ social media and website, reaching a total of about 69,000 links, followers and reactions in partners' social network accounts and media. In terms of content, a relational methodology aimed at helping how to identify and support the emergence of positive SETPs that could bring about sustainability transformations have generated out of WP5-WP7 collaboration. Our approach emphasised the need to pay attention to processes of social construction and to time dynamics. In particular, in a given social-ecological system, three key moments need to be considered: (1) The building of transformative conditions and capacities for systemic change, (2) A tipping event or intervention shifting the system towards a different trajectory or systems’ configuration, and (3) the structural effects derived from such transformation.
We have further elaborated on the notion of positive SETPs as those moments at which, due to previous cumulative and targeted interventions or individual activities, an additional action or event is able to shift a given social-ecological system towards a more just and sustainable development trajectory or configuration. This conceptual distinction between a ‘sectoral tipping point’ and a ‘full-systems’ tipping point allows us to differentiate between those limited changes or technological transitions that may occur within certain sectors, such as replacing fossil-fuel powered mobility with electrical mobility, but with limited impacts on other institutional systems; and those transformations that also entail profound cultural, psychological, ethical and institutional changes in multiple social-ecological systems. However, numerous interactions – feedbacks, synergies and trade-offs – exist between sectoral and systemic tipping points and between social and biophysical components. An important bulk of work during this first reporting period has been the exploration of mainstream and off-stream and narratives for all CS and to develop an integration framework jointly between WP5 and WP7. I

A relational interdisciplinary methodology has already been proposed for the identification and enactment of SETPs, based on the learnings gathered from two case studies in Indonesia and Bangladesh (see ). In the next period, we will have finalised all the +20 regional case studies and link them with an advanced interpretative theoretical framework. Of particular importance will be the identification of transformative capacities and enabling conditions for supporting the emergence of tipping points and cross-scale learning feedbacks contributing to SDGs Further methodological and modelling innovation is also expected regarding new approaches able to capture non-linearities, agent heterogeneity and multiple cross-scale learning feedbacks associated to the case studies. Closer engagement with our stakeholders is expected for further policy and community impact of our research, all depending on the pandemic evolution. An core aspect now being addressed in the project has to do also with exploring the practical and theoretical notion and implications of justice in CCIRs transitions, and more generally regarding regional systemic transformations in the context of global environmental change (see: early assessment of the economic costs of the pandemic was carried out here: