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Study suggests carbon emissions could be reduced by 70% from circular economy and energy efficiency/renewables

Date: Thu, 16 Apr 2015 | Author: Paul Sanderson

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Introducing resource efficiency and the circular economy could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% a study has suggested.

Global think tank Club of Rome has produced an interim report looking at Sweden that suggests greenhouse gases can be cut from resource efficiency, while also creating jobs.

In the summer, Club of Rome will update the study with case studies from both the Netherlands and Spain.

The study showed that in Sweden, by enhancing energy efficiency, its economy would become 25% more energy efficient.

Then increasing the amount of renewable energy from the current 50% to 75% would cut fossil fuel use in half.

Finally, by organising manufacturing along the lines of a materially-efficient circular/performance based economy (extending wealth, minimising waste and maximising the reuse and recycling of materials) would see a 25% overall increase in material efficiency and half of virgin materials being replaced by secondary materials. It would also double the lifetime of products compared to today.

If all of these scenarios were combined, carbon emissions would be cut by 70%. An additional 100,000 jobs would be created as a result of this, while the Swedish economy would benefit from at least another €10 billion (£7.19 billion).

The study also suggests to get maximum environmental benefits, that it should also be seen as producing economic benefits. It also suggests that resource use should be considered more as a way of reducing emissions.

It said: “Of central importance [to policymakers] will be to view a circular economy not as an environmental issue alone, but as an integral part of jobs and competitiveness strategies.

“On a related note, a current limitation is that most climate change mitigation strategies are sector-based, with a primary focus on energy use. The general level of resource use in society is seldom taken into account – in spite of the fact that the climate benefits from using products longer and from enhanced rates of recycling and reuse of materials ought to be obvious.

“The energy saved when recycling metals, for instance, is significant.

“As a consequence, climate change mitigation strategies need to become more holistic and consider resource efficiency as a key instrument.”

The report also recommends shifting taxation away from labour in industrialised countries to taxes on use of natural resources. It also argues for VAT to be removed on secondary products.

Founded in 1968, the Club of Rome is an informal association of leading personalities from politics, business and science. It exists to identify the most crucial problems that will determine the future of humanity.

View the report here

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