UNFCCC Technical Paper Highlights Mitigation Benefits of Circular Economy
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The technical paper includes options and strategies for scaling up or replicating good policy options and practices on circular economy activities that can enhance the mitigation ambition of pre-2020 action and support achievement of the SDGs.

The paper is structured in accordance with the three guiding questions of the Talanoa Dialogue: Where are we, Where do we want to go, and How do we get there?

30 October 2018: The UNFCCC Secretariat has published a technical paper, which compiles and shares information on the mitigation benefits and co-benefits of policies, practices and actions relating to circular economy activities with a focus on waste to energy, supply chain redesign and industrial waste reuse.

The paper (FCCC/TP/2018/2) is structured in accordance with the three guiding questions of the Talanoa Dialogue: Where are we? Where do we want to go? and How do we get there? It highlights barriers and success factors, key actions and strategies to enhance and scale up current efforts towards achieving mitigation potential, including:

  • improving knowledge on waste quantities and characterization, improving metrics and increasing transfer of technology;
  • investing in market development for energy and by-products from waste-to-energy technology;
  • investing in awareness raising and demand-side solutions and changing consumption patterns;
  • working on developing and adapting technologies to, inter alia, ensure cleaner waste streams at feedstock or plan for repairs at the design stage;
  • introducing a mix of policy instruments to support circular economy strategies and technologies to ensure predictability for investors and coherent frameworks across all policy areas, including waste management, renewable energy, materials extraction and fiscal policy;
  • aligning financing with needs, particularly by providing patient finance and guarantees for high risk and innovative investments; and
  • associating technical innovation with innovative business models and financing mechanisms, such as focusing on key performance indicators in contracts, looking for symbiosis and testing cooperative finance mechanisms.

The challenge with policies and incentives is to support a just transition to a circular economy by safeguarding the workforce transition.

The paper also includes options and strategies for scaling up or replicating good policy options and practices on circular economy activities that can enhance the mitigation ambition of pre-2020 action and support achievement of the SDGs, particularly SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production). It points out that many countries, particularly in Asia, have adhered to the 3R initiative to reduce, reuse and recycle. The paper also highlights that the challenge with policies and incentives is to support a just transition to a circular economy by safeguarding the workforce transition and to eliminate subsidies that may remain in parallel and impede the transition, such as fossil fuel subsidies or subsidies to resource-intensive industries.

The technical paper was prepared in response to a request by the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC in 2015, and is based on a review of the expert literature on the subject, as well as on presentations and discussions that took place during 2018 technical expert meetings (TEMs) held under the technical examination process on mitigation (TEP-M). It is targeted towards governments, local authorities, private sector technology providers, the commercial financing sector, expert organizations, research and academia, international organizations, UNFCCC constituted bodies and mechanisms, and civil society and the public. [UNFCCC Technical Paper on Circular Economy]


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