Carbon neutrality is a key issue at this year’s UN Climate Change Summit

Linear vs Circular by Catherine Weetman

The UN Climate Change Summit kicks off today in Madrid and a Scottish NGO are hoping to see discussion on how to transition from current manufacturing to a circular economy.

Zero Waste Scotland, based in Stirling, is a strong advocate for the environmental business model because it views resources as reusable, rather than disposable.

Jamie MacDonald, PR Manager from Zero Waste Scotland, says promoting circular economy is one of the organisation’s top priorities.

MacDonald said: “We are keen to raise awareness of the circular economy. Designing items to be reused as far as possible at the end of their lives. We would like to see the approach of ‘make, use, remake’ becoming more recognised as the standard way products should be designed.”

The current economic cycle is linear and can be broken down into four basic steps:

  • Extracting resources
  • Manufacturing products
  • Selling the product to the consumer
  • Product disposal

Rather than moving a resource from point A (extraction) to point B (disposal), a circular economy looks to bring each extracted resource back to point A to be used again.

Adopting a circular economy could have a significant impact in reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

MacDonald said: “Some studies estimate that this circular economy approach could eradicate almost half of our carbon footprint by 2050.”

Goals to reduce carbon by 45% in the next decade, and achieve full carbon neutrally by 2050, was a central topic at the UN Climate Action Summit which took place in New York last September.

COP25 will strengthen the Climate Action Summit’s progress by preparing world leaders to submit updated national climate plans in 2020.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, says COP25 should be used as an opportunity to accelerate progress in regards to climate change.

“The world’s small window of opportunity to address climate change is closing rapidly. We must urgently deploy all the tools of multilateral cooperation to make COP25 the launchpad for more climate ambition to put the world on a transformational path towards low carbon and resilience.”

The renewed action plans are the next step in meeting the demands of the Paris Agreement, signed by 197 countries in 2016.

Ratified in 2019 by 185 countries, the Paris Agreement is a pledge to stop the global average temperature from raising more than 1.5 degrees.

Countries are currently failing to meet the targets laid out by the agreement, with Morocco, The Gambia, and India having made the most progress in the last three years.

Next year’s summit will be hosted in Glasgow, which MacDonald says is an indication of Scotland’s environmental reputation worldwide.

“Being chosen to host COP26 shows that Scotland is recognised as a leader on the international stage when it come to addressing climate change. If we are to make an impact in tackling the climate emergency it is vital that we work beyond borders, bringing together everyone including governments, businesses and individuals,” he says.

MacDonald says the summit is an important part of addressing climate change because it allows countries to tackle the issue together.

“We can only make a difference by working together and the Summit has the potential to be a significant part of this.”

COP25 is taking place in Madrid from 2-13 December.