Welcome to the Post-Carbon Transition

How can we transition to a world that is cleaner, safer, smarter, and more prosperous? Incremental change along existing paradigms will fall short … but what if we could identify areas where small or moderate changes could trigger outsized impacts, accelerating the post-carbon transition? What part can weplay in triggering these interventions?

About this Wiki

This page catalogues sensitive intervention points (SIPs) which might accelerate the transition to a post-carbon economy. It is intended as an open community resource where members can learn about and contribute to our understanding of sensitive intervention points, and can debate ideas for their implementation. This Wiki was created by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Post-Carbon Transition. Find out more about the programme here.


What is a Sensitive Intervention Point?

A Sensitive Intervention Point (SIP) is a relatively small change in a socio-economic, technological, or political system which leads to an increase in climate change mitigation. SIPs can be either kicks or shifts which trigger or release feedback loops that generate an outsized impact.

One type of sensitive intervention point is what we call a kick, which involves an impulse to the current state of the system, moving it onto a new trajectory without any change in the underlying system dynamics. If the new trajectory diverges rapidly from the old trajectory, then a kick at the right point can trigger a large change. A kick can be effective when the system is chaotic or when it is near a critical point where feedbacks are triggered. Subsidizing renewable energy sources to lower their costs below parity with polluting alternatives might be an example of a kick.

Another type of sensitive intervention point involves a shift in the underlying system dynamic, where the rules of the system itself change and trajectories alter substantially. A shift can be effective even without a kick. In the socioeconomic-political sphere, a shift may entail a change in key concepts and institutions or a piece of legislation. For example, the shift from the rigid Kyoto regime to the more flexible (if still imperfect) Paris structure has altered the rules of the game, enabling new forms of cooperation.

While the distinction between kicks and shifts is clear in theory, in practice SIPs typically
involve a mixture of the two and can be difficult to distinguish. In both cases self-reinforcing feedback loops are particularly important. They exist in both human and natural systems and lead to a disturbance becoming magnified. In order to mitigate climate change we urgently need to identify these SIPs for a post carbon transition, trigger them, and encourage their self-reinforcing dynamics.

SIP Tags

SIPS are labelled by a number of tags which categorize the intervention points allowing users to easily sort through SIP pages. You can search for SIPS under certain categories by clicking on their tag (examples below). And you can also add your own tag for a new SIP.


Get Involved!

This wiki supports an open community of people seeking to bring about the transition to a post-carbon economy. We are seeking to crowd-source ideas about where these intervention points might be located.
We are seeking ideas from as many different disciplines and world views as possible so please get involved!

How to get involved:


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