Date: 23/12/2021.

Publication type: Research article.

Author(s): Alexandros Nikas, Georgios Xexakis, , Konstantinos Koasidis, José Acosta-Fernández, Iñaki Arto, Alvaro Calzadilla, Teresa Domenech, Ajay Gambhir, Stefan Giljum, Mikel Gonzalez-Eguino, Andrea Herbst, Olga Ivanova, Mariësse A. E.van Sluisveld, Dirk-JanVan De Ven, Anastasios Karamaneas, Haris Doukas

Keywords: Integrated assessment models, Economy & Finance, Climate.

Short description:

Technological breakthroughs and policy measures targeting energy efficiency and clean energy alone will not suffice to deliver Paris Agreement-compliant greenhouse gas emissions trajectories in the next decades. Strong cases have recently been made for acknowledging the decarbonisation potential lying in transforming linear economic models into closed-loop industrial ecosystems and in shifting lifestyle patterns towards this direction. This perspective highlights the research capacity needed to inform on the role and potential of the circular economy for climate change mitigation and to enhance the scientific capabilities to quantitatively explore their synergies and trade-offs. This begins with establishing conceptual and methodological bridges amongst the relevant and currently fragmented research communities, thereby allowing an interdisciplinary integration and assessment of circularity, decarbonisation, and sustainable development. Following similar calls for science in support of climate action, a transdisciplinary scientific agenda is needed to co-create the goals and scientific processes underpinning the transition pathways towards a circular, net-zero economy with representatives from policy, industry, and civil society. Here, it is argued that such integration of disciplines, methods, and communities can then lead to new and/or structurally enhanced quantitative systems models that better represent critical industrial value chains, consumption patterns, and mitigation technologies. This will be a crucial advancement towards assessing the material implications of, and the contribution of enhanced circularity performance to, mitigation pathways that are compatible with the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement and the transition to a circular economy.