The COP 26 (UN Climate Change Conference), hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, will take place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. The purpose of this conference is to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol and establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to put a halt to the globe’s temperature rise and tackle climate change. COP26, in particular, is being viewed as the successor to COP21 where the Paris Agreement was born. This year’s conference is seen as the ultimate summit to address what has and hasn’t been achieved since then. It’s imperative that state leaders conclude and submitt their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s) in order to reverse this challenge.

Since the industrial revolution, we’ve been pursuing a linear approach regarding the use of natural resources. This ‘take-make-waste’ extractive economy resulted in the reliance on fossil fuels and the mismanagement of those natural resources for the long-term which, consequently, contributed to the rapid increase of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. As such, climate change and material use are closely linked. It’s been calculated that 55% of greenhouse gas emissions can be tackled by shifting to renewable and clean energies, but the remaining 45% comes from material use, manufacturing, and management. In this regard, a circular economy is all about how we make products. Leaving out waste, recycling, reusing and redesigning items, alongside keeping energy in use are all processes that can sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions and regenerate nature. Considering the severity of the climate challenge and the existing widespread linear economy practices, a circular economy approach should be highly encouraged and supported by policy measures as the way to overcome the enormous pressure that economic activities and consumption patterns pose on our ecosystems. This circular approach would be an fundamental booster to put the world on track to achieve zero emissions by 2050 and to meet the 1.5˚C target set out in the Paris Agreement.

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Between Adaptation and Mitigation: the Role of Circular Economy in tackling Climate Change

With this at heart, the European Union (EU) offered the possibility to apply for a spot to participate in the COP26 event under the ‘EU Pavilion – European Union Side Event COP26’. Therefore, on the 6th of November 2021 from 17.00 to 17.30 (CET), three EU-based initiatives have decided to partner up for a project event emphasizing the key role a circular economy can play in fighting climate change. These initiatives are:

REPLACE, an Interreg Europe project aiming at improving management, implementation and monitoring of regional policy instruments targeted at facilitating the transition towards a CE, while boosting sustainable development: the main operative target refers to the development and application of policies and actions focusing on identification, valorization, assessment, and financing of circular value chains, resulting in new local and interregional projects.

DigiPrime, an H2020 project designing a circular economy digital platform in order to unlock new circular business models based on the data-enhanced recovery and reuse of functions and materials.

PolicyLab, an EU-wide initiative promoting discussion about circular economy themes, bringing together regional officers, stakeholders and policymakers willing to co-design solutions for better policies enabling EU industry, SMEs and citizens to adopt a circular sustainable approach.

Currently, every venture that aims to counter the linear business model should be pushed forward. Achieving this transition requires concerted effort, that’s why these three projects together serve as an important contribution to create the desired impact. These have the potential to put the circular economy head-on on the climate agenda and give it the much-needed prominence in the governments and policymakers’ environmental strategies while making a compelling case for seeing the circular economy not just as one possibility to consider in the pursuit of meeting the UN climate goals, but as a strong solution framework for a green and booming future.

To be part of the change, please, register in the following link:

https://www.cop26eusideevents.eu/register

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References:

United Nations Climate Change (2019) Circular Economy Crucial for Paris Climate Goals. Available at: https://unfccc.int/news/circular-economy-crucial-for-paris-climate-goals

COP26 (2021) COP26 Goals. United Nations Climate Change. Available at: https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/

European Comission (2021) COP26 Climate Change Conference. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/news-your-voice/events/cop26-climate-change-conference_fr