What are climate ‘tipping points’ and how likely are they? (A5)

Evidence from ice core and sediment records shows that in the past, Earth’s climate has reached critical thresholds, triggering abrupt and rapid change. Whilst the reasons behind such ‘tipping points’ are not always clear, evidence from climate models shows that they could be reached again as the planet warms in response to greenhouse gas emissions. However, this risk cannot yet be assessed precisely, neither can the full impacts of any resulting large-scale climate changes. However, whilst it is difficult to account for their likelihood in models and associated costs in policy, it is clear that the chance of triggering any such events would be reduced through greenhouse gas emission reductions.

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