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Completing the Picture - New paper tells how the circular economy tackles climate change

September 23, 2019

As leaders from around the world gather in New York for Climate Week NYC, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with Material Economics, has launched Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change. The paper reveals the need for a fundamental shift in the global approach to tackling climate change.

Moving to renewables can only address 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve UN climate goals, the paper highlights the urgent need to tackle the remaining 45%, and demonstrates the potential of the circular economy by looking at five key areas - steel, plastic, aluminium, cement, and food.

Adopting a circular economy framework in these areas can achieve a reduction totalling 9.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2050. This is equivalent to eliminating current emissions from all forms of transport globally. These examples provide a clear message to other industries – such as fashion, electronics, and packaging – of the value the circular economy can offer.

Diet shift, emerging innovations, and carbon capture and storage are the final pieces required to complete the picture of how the world can achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Completing the Picture: How the Circular Economy Tackles Climate Change brings an important missing piece to climate change solutions, demonstrating that by building a thriving and resilient economy - businesses, financial institutions, and policymakers play an essential role.

Switching to renewable energy plays a vital role in addressing climate change, but this alone will not be enough. In order to achieve targets on climate, it is critical that we transform how we design, make, and use products and food. Completing the picture through a transition to a circular economy can enable us to meet the needs of a growing global population, while creating a prosperous and resilient economy that can run in the long term.

- Dame Ellen MacArthur - Founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Carbon constraints actually represent huge ingenuity opportunities. That is true for every company, for every city, and any country. That is the direction in which we need to move, and this paper offers compelling figures to give confidence in our ability to optimise decarbonisation and economic development in mutual support of each other.

- Christiana Figueres - Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Founding Partner, Global Optimism

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