New policy paper published: 'circular economy key to meeting EU's climate targets'

February 19, 2021

Policymakers play a key role in fostering solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The recently published policy paper A climate-neutral and circular industry for Europe, which the Foundation has co-authored with experts from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), demonstrates the importance of the circular economy to the EU's ability to meet its climate targets. It also puts forth a series of recommendations that will enable the EU to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

The paper specifically looks at the climate benefits of transitioning to a circular economy in three carbon-intensive sectors: urban mobility, the built environment, and food. Together, the three sectors account for almost three-quarters of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions. The recommendations concern the governance of these sectors, but also more broadly the EU's institutional setup and policy priorities.

The paper comes at a time when the European Commission is developing a revised version of the bloc’s Industrial Strategy and aims to inform the discussions around the new strategy and similar future debates. It concludes that transitioning to a circular economy would support the EU’s efforts to reach climate neutrality by 2050. In order to facilitate the uptake of circular economy practices, EU policymakers would benefit from:

  • Mainstreaming the circular economy in all the policies and strategies stemming from the EU Green Deal, such as the bloc’s Climate Law and its Industrial Strategy
  • Strengthening the European Semester process, which governs decisions regarding policy reforms in member states
  • Using the EU’s budget and recovery funds to finance the transition to a circular economy
  • Fostering global cooperation on the circular economy using trade policies and treatises.

Read the paper and its summary here.

Mainstreaming a circular economy approach in the EU’s broader policy frameworks on climate, industry, finance, and trade will enable a successful transition away from a linear take-make-waste production and consumption model. And this will, in turn, enable the EU to meet its climate ambitions.

- Carsten Wachholz, Senior Policy Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

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