We need a fundamental shift in the global approach to climate change in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement by 2050.
The renewable energy transition is half the story. If we adopt the circular economy as a way to make and produce materials, products, and food, we begin to see the complete picture of a resilient, net-zero world.
Joining the dots between the circular economy and climate change
The transition to renewable energy is vital if we are to tackle climate change. Yet, with existing technologies, that transition would only address 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions; namely, those emissions that come from the electricity and heat we use in buildings, from our energy system more broadly, and from transport.
They are a consequence of the way we make and use materials and products, including our food. To eliminate these hard-to-abate emissions, we need to transition to a circular economy. Why?
Industry emits greenhouse gas emissions from chemical processes and from high-heat processes that are currently fuelled largely through the burning of fossil fuels. These emissions cannot be tackled, at scale, by existing renewable energy.
Meanwhile, agriculture is the second largest contributor to climate change after electricity generation. Food production is a leading source of non-CO2 emissions, such as methane from livestock rearing and nitrous oxide from the use of fertilisers.