"Circulation economy as way to combat climate change"
06 Jun 2018, 02:55 ( 14 days ago) | updated: 06 Jun 2018, 02:58 ( 14 days ago)
To realize the goals set by the Paris Agreement, it will be vital to introduce an improved circular economy rather than to focus on decarbonizing industrial processes and increasing use of renewable energy, a Finnish study revealed on Tuesday.
A report commissioned by the Finnish innovation fund Sitra said that recirculation of industrial materials could deeply cut heavy industry emissions.
The report released on Tuesday focused on the four largest sources of industrial emissions, which are steel, plastics, aluminum and cement, as well as their use in automobiles and buildings.
Mari Panzar, an executive at Sitra, said on Finnish national radio Yle on Tuesday these four materials cause around 8 percent of the emissions of the whole EU.
Sitra concluded that a better functioning circular economy could reduce nearly 300 million tons of carbon dioxide per year in the European Union. A global amount would be 3.6 billion tons annually. Panzar said findings are so substantial that the Commission of the EU cannot disregard them.
"Simply making better use of the materials that already exist in the economy can take EU industry halfway towards net-zero emissions," Panzar said.
"Without dealing with these industrial materials the aims of the Paris accords will not be attained," Panzar added.
The report recommended that initiatives for a more circular economy therefore deserve a central place in EU climate and industrial policy.
Maija Pohjakallio, a researcher at the Finnish State Research Center VTT, said on Yle that both new technologies and new incentives must be developed.
"The whole circulation should be activated. We collect plastics as part of the garbage disposal services, but we need technologies that the collected plastics can then be safely processed and put back into circulation," explained Pohjakallio.
The Sitra report noted that attention in the climate change issue has been so far mainly "on the supply side", that is, on the need to develop and deploy new industrial production processes, turn to non-fossile feedstock and fuels, and use carbon capture and storage to offset any remaining emissions.
Sitra raised the issue that the discussion of the "demand side" has been missing. New production of materials could be reduced, if better use of materials already produced could be made.