Headline: Deliverable 3.3: Contribution to the Tipping Plus project's integration framework from a policy and governance perspective

In the last years, the concept of tipping points received increasing recognition in social science and rose on the political agenda. Identifying tipping points would allow researchers to identify the point in time in which a transition happens, and to understand the processes of overcoming lock-in mechanisms and trigger deliberate tipping an existing system into a qualitatively new state. Because tipping points bring about rapid systemic change, it is desirable to further understand how tipping points may be triggered to accelerate the transformation of social and economic systems. There is little doubt that tipping points exist in both social and socio-technical systems because we can observe that systems and societies are fundamentally different today than they were in the past. However, despite a growing body of literature, there remain many open questions how to conceptualise and ultimately operationalize social tipping points. This also stems from a lack of empirical studies and insights observing tipping points in social contexts. In the Tipping.Plus project we addressed this gap with a literature review and empirical case studies investigating tipping dynamics from a public policy and governance perspective. In the literature review we explored definitions, characteristics, and the application of the concept and notion of tipping points in political and governance theories and contexts. In the second step, we conducted an empirical study investigating the socio-economic transition processes of the two German neigbouring cities Essen and Duisburg, which have both phased out their coal industries, as part of the wider structural change in the Ruhr Region. We focused on (political) interventions and their effects on the cities’ development trajectories in the last 30+ years to identify differences in outcome as a function of policy interventions and/or contextual differences. Apart from identifying the key development drivers, we investigate whether either city crossed a tipping point in their transition process (yet), away from coal towards a low carbon but still prosperous future (Mey and Lilliestam 2022). In the following we synthesise the findings of this work and our observations and experiences in order to contribute to the overall Tipping.Plus Integration Framework and Social Theory on social tipping points in energy transitions.

Publication Year
Publication Type

Mey, F., & Lilliestam, J.(2022). Deliverable 3.3: Contribution to the Tipping Plus project's integration framework from a policy and governance perspective. Potsdam: Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS).

Staff involved
Projects involved
Identifying Positive Tipping Points towards Clean Energy Transitions in Carbon Intensive Regions (Tipping+)