Circular economy: the key to halting climate change

Circular economy: the key to halting climate change

The circular economy can help us rewrite our future and lead us away from the devastating path of climate change

17/04/2023

From floods to forest fires to melting ice caps, everywhere we turn we can see the devastating impact of climate change. It is a human-made problem and we humans need to change our behaviours to solve it.

Forty-five per cent of the emissions that cause climate change come from the production of the buildings, cars, clothes and food in our everyday lives. 

The circular economy will help us rethink how we make these everyday things – how we can reduce our emissions and set ourselves on the right path to the Paris Agreement target of reducing the Earth’s temperature by 1.5 degrees.

If we apply the circular economy in just five areas – cement, aluminium, steel, plastics and food – we can clean out 9.3 billion tonnes of CO2 from our atmosphere by 2050. That’s the equivalent of cutting all transport emissions to zero.

“The circular economy is about going back to the drawing board and rethinking how we can do things better”

How will the circular economy help? Circular economy principles design out waste and pollution at every stage of the making process, and reduce overuse of harmful products.

Take cement as an example. It is used widely across the planet to help build our world. Yet cement manufacturing produces 8% of global annual CO2 emissions. To make cement, fossil fuels or waste are burned to superheat lime in a kiln and produce calcium oxide — a chemical process that results in further CO2 emissions.

We could rethink the way cement is manufactured to make it capture carbon rather than release it, using new materials or new applications. This is an example of the impact circular-economy thinking can have.

It’s not simply about reducing the impact of an old system. It’s about going back to the drawing board and rethinking how we can do things better.

The same goes for other industrial processes such as steel and aluminium production.

Rethinking the production of those materials, along with reconsidering their use in building, would allow us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.1 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2050. For context, that is more than the emissions the European Union member states generated collectively during the whole of 2019.

And we can do the same for all sectors: clothing, cars, food – anything we use we can rethink along circular economy principles to make them smarter and better for our planet.

Intesa Sanpaolo is the first strategic financial services partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which campaigns for transition to the circular economy.

Watch the film to find out more about how it can help us reverse climate change and assure our planet’s future.

ARTICLE STAT SOURCES

1Completing the Picture – How the circular economy tackles climate change | Shared by Climate Change (thirdlight.com)

2https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/completing-the-picture

3https://medium.com/circulatenews/building-a-world-free-from-waste-and-pollution-575efb9a6a47

4https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/news/our-plan-for-cement-the-circular-economy

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