Circular economy potential for climate change mitigation
On a planet with limited natural resources, circular economy comes as a necessity in order to sustain human living conditions.
Circular economy consists in keeping materials and products ‘circulating’ in the technosphere, it avoids raw materials extraction and production, and, to a certain extent, processing and manufacturing steps. Circular economy facilitates cutting down GHG emissions, by reducing the amount of energy needed by industrial production processes to transform primary raw materials into usable products. But to what extent?
In its study, Circular Economy Potential for Climate Change Mitigation, Deloitte Sustainability developed a methodology –based on EXIOBASE input-output tables, to measure the carbon footprint of products and services consumed in the EU. This study estimates how carbon emissions can be reduced, in the light of circular economy strategies.
The study, conducted among four main sectors: food, construction, automotive and electronics and electrical equipment (EEE), reveals a potential for GHG emissions reductions between 13% and 66% in each of these sectors.
Altogether, circular economy may lead to a reduction of approximately 550Mt CO2 eq.
This represents a 33% reduction of the emissions related to the production of goods consumed in the EU. Keeping global warming below 2°C requires a 50% reduction of total global greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC, 2014) by 2050. Implementing globally scaled Circular economy strategies would allow us to meet 3/5th of this objective.