Circular economy is vital in climate change fight, report finds

by Search Gate staff. Published Mon 15 Jun 2016 11:55
Environmental benefits of moving to a circular economy explored in new study
Environmental benefits of moving to a circular economy explored in new study

Making things last instead of throwing them away could make a drastic difference in the fight against climate change, according to a world-leading new Scottish report.

Zero Waste Scotland’s Carbon Impacts of the Circular Economy sets out how actions such as repairing, reusing and remanufacturing valuable products and materials has the potential to slash Scottish greenhouse gas emissions by up to 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) by 2050.

That’s the equivalent of almost 275 million return car journeys between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The report is one of the first in the world to quantify the environmental benefits of moving to a more circular economy which is where we keep products in use for as long as possible; and reused, refurbished or taken apart to make new products at the end of their initial life.

Speaking from the EU’s Environment Council in Luxembourg, Scotland’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod said: "Scotland is already recognised internationally as a leader in tackling climate change and the movement towards becoming a circular economy – and this report is further proof of how we are punching above our weight on the world stage.

"Scotland’s target of a 42 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is the most ambitious in the world, and we are on track to meet this ahead of schedule – although we must all do more.

"The consumption of materials is responsible for over two thirds of Scotland’s carbon emissions – and this report underlines the need to bring an end to our throwaway society.

"We can all take simple steps to do this, for example by reusing carrier bags, hiring clothes for a special event, or repairing broken toys instead of buying new ones. And we want to hear the public’s ideas for how they can #MakeThingsLast and contribute towards a more circular economy for Scotland.

"At the same time, I will continue to strongly press the international community to look to Scotland and follow our example in striving for the highest global ambition to tackle climate change. This is essential if the new international treaty to be agreed in Paris in December is to stand a good chance of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

"We welcome the European Commission’s consultation on a circular economy, and will also be publishing our own proposals for a more circular economy for Scotland later this year."

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: "This report shows that a circular economy – where we move away from a ‘take, make and dispose’ society – could have a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland.

"Making the link between the circular economy and climate change highlights just how important it is that we all get behind practical actions that will make a difference. We’re asking people all over Scotland to give us their thoughts on how else we can help #MakeThingsLast.

"The report also shows the importance of thinking about the things we consume as a society, regardless of where they come from. Moving to a circular economy will reduce emissions here in Scotland and around the world too – whilst still growing our national economy."

Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "This is a ground-breaking report that shows the huge potential to reduce climate emissions if we only start using materials more sensibly. Our throw-away attitude to resources costs money, wastes valuable materials and creates climate change.

“This research shows that better choices about resources and waste could be saving us more carbon than a whole fossil-fuelled power station emits. The Scottish Government needs to push forward with Circular Economy ideas so we can reap the benefits to the economy, the environment and the climate."

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