Shifting to a Circular Economy Essential to Achieving Paris Agreement Goals

UN Climate Change News, 15 April – Accelerating the shift to a circular economy is essential to achieve the climate goals agreed by the international community and to help rebuild the world’s economies stronger, greener and better. These are the key conclusions set out by top UN climate officials at the two-day World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) which kicked off today.

A global initiative of Finland and the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the WCEF is inviting leaders, policymakers and experts to present the world’s best solutions to transition to a fair and competitive circular economy.

In her address today at the virtual WCEF and Climate high-level meeting, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, underlined the need for bold and resolute action in the face of the global pandemic and ongoing climate emergency.

With the crucial UN Climate Change Conference COP26 set to take place in Glasgow in November, Ms. Espinosa said: “We urge all Parties – especially major emitters – to look at how in the coming months they can increase their ambition and reflect this in new or revised NDCs. We simply cannot afford further delay on our current pathway.”

“The circular economy plays a definitive role here. It must expand if we are to reduce emissions across sectors as it is an essential component to achieving climate neutrality.” She added she was encouraged that many governments have mentioned the circular economy in their recent NDCs and long-term low emissions strategies.

NDCs are Nationally Determined Contributions – national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement.

An initial NDC Synthesis Report published by UN Climate Change earlier this year shows that nations are far off track and must submit much stronger national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5°C by the end of the century.

Paris Agreement calls for transformation of production and consumption patterns

The circular economy involves avoiding excessive consumption, waste and use of fossil fuels by leasing, reusing, repairing and recycling existing materials and products.

The extraction and processing of natural resources causes half of global emissions and over 90% of biodiversity loss. The shift to a circular economy is therefore crucial to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.

Speaking at the event, UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad, highlighted the role of the circular economy in implementing the Paris Agreement:

“The Paris Agreement calls for a transformation of our production and consumption patterns – particularly in developed countries. That means circular economy principles: using less resources, more sustainable materials and recycling the ones we have used.” He added: “Energy supply, transport, buildings and waste management remain priority sectors for immediate climate action. In our engagement with policymakers, business and investors on these topics, the circular economy will be part of the agenda.

Participants at the virtual event are sharing examples of how businesses can seize new opportunities and gain a competitive advantage through circular economy solutions.

Given the importance of regional perspectives from around the world in building circular economies, the meeting will zoom in on regional supply chains in Africa and Latin America and aligning perspectives on circular economy from developed and developing countries.

See more about the meeting here.

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