Adopt circular economy policies or risk climate catastrophe, warns new report

Just 9% of the global economy’s materials are re-used annually, according to a new report by impact organisation Circle Economy.

Launched at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, The Circularity Gap Report 2019, found most governments barely consider circular economy measures.

Around 62% of global greenhouse gas emissions, excluding land use and forestry, are released during the extraction, processing and manufacturing of goods.

The report recommended maximising and extending a product’s lifetime, more recycling and using waste as a resource and circular design.

It called on governments to abolish financial incentives which encourage overuse of natural resources, raise taxes on emissions and excessive resource extraction and lower taxes on labour, knowledge and innovation in these areas.

Circle Economy calculated that nearly half of all materials going into the economy – 42.4 billion tonnes a year – are used in the construction and maintenance of houses, offices, roads and infrastructure.

Circle Economy’s CEO, Harald Friedl, said: “Governments’ climate change strategies have focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency and avoiding deforestation but they have overlooked the vast potential of the circular economy.

“They should re-engineer supply chains all the way back to the wells, fields, mines and quarries where our resources originate so that we consume fewer raw materials. This will not only reduce emissions but also boost growth by making economies more efficient.”

Global use of materials has tripled since 1970 and could double again by 2050 without action, said the UN International Resource Panel.

The World Economic Forum in Davos brings together 2,500 politicians, business leaders and economists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world today.