Economic Butterfly Wings

The answer to the climate crisis could be seizing social and political tipping points where a modest intervention can lead to massive change — what you might describe as economic butterfly wings creating a climate action tornado.

In a commentary in the journal Science, a team of researchers from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Post-Carbon Transition have proposed a new approach to designing climate interventions to take advantage of socio-economic and political tipping points. They seek real-world social, political and economic situations in which a small action can trigger rapid or dramatic change. Past examples suggest that policies that deliver a shift or kick to the right system at the right sensitive intervention point can significantly alter the climate-change trajectory.

“Interventions have snowballing effects. One teenager outside the Swedish parliament might lead to a powerful global movement. If we target sensitive intervention points – advances in key technologies, shifts in social norms, new regulations or accounting guidance to facilitate lawsuits – their associated amplification mechanisms can produce rapid, profitable and popular acceleration towards a post-carbon economy.”


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